Père Laval's Shrine

Top choice in Port Louis

Pope Francis makes a prayer as he visits the mausoleum of Jacques-Desire Laval in Port Louis, Mauritius, on September 9, 2019, on the final stop of an Africa tour. - Pope Francis visit three-nation tour of Indian Ocean African countries hard hit by poverty, conflict and natural disaster. Francis' visit coincides with the 155th anniversary of the death of Father Jacques Desire Laval, a French priest who died in Mauritius in 1864 and was beatified in 1979. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

TIZIANA FABI/Getty

The shrine of French Catholic priest and missionary Père Jacques-Désiré Laval is something of a Lourdes of the Indian Ocean, with many miracles attributed to pilgrimages here. The padre died in 1864 and was beatified in 1979 during a visit by Pope John Paul II. Père Laval is credited with converting 67,000 people to Christianity during his 23 years in Mauritius. To get here, take a bus signed 'Cité La Cure' or 'Père Laval' from the Immigration Square bus station.

Père Laval is a popular figure with Mauritians of all religions. Pilgrims come from as far afield as South Africa, Britain and France to commemorate the anniversary of his death on 9 September. Notice the coloured plaster effigy of the priest on top of the tomb – it's been rubbed smooth by miracle-seeking pilgrims.

At other times of year the shrine is fairly quiet, though the services held on Friday at 1pm and 5pm attract a reasonable crowd. In the same complex is a large, modern church and a shop with a permanent exhibition of Père Laval's robe, mitre, letters and photographs.