Book in Memory of Renowned Spiritan Missionary in Mauritius “an opportunity to give hope”

Tomb of Blessed Fr Jacob Désiré Laval, the Apostle of Mauritius.

The newly-published book containing testimonies on the life of Blessed Jacques-Désiré Laval, a renowned French Spiritan Priest, also referred to as the “Apostle of Mauritius” following his missionary work in the Indian Ocean island nation, aims at giving hope during moments of despair, the author has said.

Published by Spiritan Fr. Bernard Hym under the title, “Recognition to Father Laval: Testimonies and Prayers," the book contains a selection of 75 testimonies.

“Beyond the curiosity that these testimonies will arouse, the book wants to be an opportunity to give hope to those who despair and to invite others to share their thanks to Father Laval,” Fr. Bernard who is the Vice-Postulator of the canonization cause for Blessed Laval has said in a report published June 9 by the Diocese of Port-Louis.

Fr. Bernard hopes that from the “bouquet of thanksgiving,” in the book, he will identify a possible miracle attributed to Blessed Laval, which will allow the Church to proclaim him as Saint Laval.

He says that although the Church requires that the miracle “be a physical healing, instantaneous and complete, recognized as extraordinary by the doctors who followed the patient,” the book has more than just that.

The book contains testimonies around the question of healing, the Vice-Postulator says and adds that he included “testimonies from students, couples in difficulty, and the unemployed to remind (them) that Father Laval is attentive to all (in) distress and helps us to become peacemakers.”

What is unique about the book, Fr. Bernard who has served as the Vice-Postulator of the Cause since 2017 testifies, is that it brings something new since each prayer is preceded by a testimony of gratitude for the favors obtained thanks to Blessed Laval’s intercession.

“Father Laval is present in the prayers of Mauritians, without distinction of community or religion, and has been responding to the calls of all for more than 155 years,” Fr. Bernard says.

He adds that the book is in support of the more than 10,000 pilgrims at the vault of Blessed Laval per week, a testimony of the confidence that people put in Blessed Laval "who they recognized as a saint even in his lifetime."

“Today, we like to call him ‘the Apostle of the Unity of Mauritius,’” Fr. Bernard says.

Born in France in September 1803, Blessed Laval abandoned his career as a medical doctor and dedicated his life to serve the ill and the poor people in Mauritius as a missionary from from 1841 to the time of his death in 1864.

He was beatified on April 29, 1979, becoming the first Frenchman to be beatified by Pope St. John Paul II and the first Spiritan to be proclaimed as Blessed.

According to Fr. Bernard, though the people of God on the Indian Ocean island nation have often said that Blessed Laval is holy and they are contented with him being beatified, the Mauritians felt the “the vast majority hope for canonization” when Pope Francis visited the country on September 9, 2019.

During the three-nation apostolic visit to Africa, Pope Francis prayed at the tomb of Blessed Laval located at the foot of a very specific cross.

“Through his missionary outreach and his love, Father Laval gave to the Mauritian Church a new youth, a new life, that today we are asked to carry forward,” Pope Francis said during Mass outside the Monument of Mary Queen of Peace in Port Louis September 9.

The Vice-Postulator has urged Mauritians to keep praying for the canonization of Blessed Laval and as they pray, to think of those “who have given up on standing before the Lord” and those who, “seeking the light of hope, are drowned in their problems.”

“By this canonization and by our own testimony, they will know that there is, with God, a lawyer who transmits the prayer of each one and that all are listened to ... sometimes by receiving the requested grace, but more often by receiving the strength to get back on your feet in adversity,” Fr. Bernard has said.

He further says, addressing himself to the people of God in Mauritius, “Until this hoped-for day when we can pray to our Saint, Father Laval, continue to send your testimonies, even if they relate old facts.”


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