To all these thousands of pilgrims this is a night apart from all other nights. They are marching to the spirtual centre of Mauritius where they have an appointment with a man of God who brought their forefathers out of the darkness of man-made barracoons into the light of Paradise. They are communing with their father who taught them that their heart too can become the throne of God.
Père Laval arrived in Mauritius in 1841 and worked here until his death in 1864. He devoted himself wholeheartedly to the moral and spiritual uplift of the emancipated slaves. Such was his devotion, so exemplary was his piety, that he won for the Catholic Church the fervour of the island’s entire black population. It is said that even the white population, which had ever since the French Revolution grown increasingly materialistic in outlook and sceptical about religion, were drawn to the Church by the christian example of their ‘inferiors’. By the time of Père Laval’s death in 1864, a deep and lasting moral and religious regeneration had taken place in Mauritius.