Mauritius: home to first person beatified by Pope

The Holy Father is particularly remembered on this island in the Indian Ocean, because it was home to the first person he beatified - Blessed Jacques Laval, under whose guidance he placed his pontificate. Mauritians are hoping that Blessed Jacques Laval, who has been likened to Saint Jean-Marie Vianney (the cura d'Ars) will soon be canonised. Jacques Dasira Laval, born in Normandy, France, in 1803, trained as a doctor, before coming to work as a missionary with the Holy Ghost Fathers in this former British colony. A much-loved friend of the slaves, he is said to have toiled as much as he prayed. While Catholic and Protestant priests mostly served after the abolition of slavery there in 1834, history shows that the system went on for several more years after this date. Upon making Laval a beatified on 29 April 1979, John-Paul II said that he was putting his pontificate under his protection. In 1989, during his visit to Mauritius, the Pope knelt to pray alone beside the tomb of Blessed jacques in Sainte-Croix, near the Mauritian capital centre. The shrine is a popular pilgrimage place, attracting many thousands of visitors throughout the year. A large number of Catholics are praying for a second officially accepted miraculous healing to take place, so that Pare Laval can be made a saint. A proposal to drop this requirement for a second miracle currently under study at the Vatican, may mean that he could be canonized more quickly under the new Pope. Cardinal Jean Margaot, who leads the diocese of Port-Louis will not be taking part in the Conclave because he is 85 years old. Some ten priests from Poland serving in Mauritius are celebrating a Mass for Pope John Paul II here this Thursday in Polish.

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