Pope Francis made a brief but intense stop at this shrine to pray before the tomb of the French missionary, Fr. Laval. He is known as the “apostle” of Mauritius because he evangelized the indigenous of the island.
Pope Francis arrived in the popemobile to enthusiastic pilgrims. He placed a bouquet of flowers at the foot of the wax image on the tomb and prayed with remembrance for a few minutes.
The tomb is at the foot of a very specific cross, replicated after the only cross that Fr. Laval was ever photographed with. The shrine can fit about 250 people, although just over 60 were present.
Fr. Laval was the first Frenchman beatified by John Paul II. He lived largely in the 19th century, abandoning the practice of medicine to become a missionary. He lived an austere life, founding schools and hospitals due to the continuous cholera epidemic. His shrine is one of the most visited by Catholics in Mauritius. Often time, people visit on the anniversary of his death, Sept. 9, the same day Pope Francis visited.