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Jacques-Désiré Laval (also Jacob Desiré Laval) (18 September 1803, Crothmarker, Euremarker — 9 September 1864) was a Roman Catholic priest and missionary to Mauritiusmarker. He is known honorifically as the "Apostle of Mauritius", and was the first beatus of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit.


Jacques Laval was the child of a successful farmer in Normandy, France. His uncle was a priest, and he grew up in a devoutly Catholic household. His mother died when he was seven years old.

Laval was educated at Évreuxmarker, and the Collège Stanislas de Parismarker. Though initially uncertain whether to pursue the priesthood or the practice of medicine, he received his medical degree in 1830 and set up a practice in Saint-Andrémarker and Ivry-la-Bataillemarker in his native Normandy.

He reexamined his choice after a near-fatal riding accident. Feeling he was called to the priesthood, he closed his practice and entered the seminary of Saint-Sulpicemarker; he was ordained in 1838, and worked as a parish priest for two years. He desired a more active ministry, however, and entered the Society of the Holy Heart of Mary (later renamed as the Congregation of the Holy Spirit). He was sent as a missionary to the island of Mauritius on September 14, 1841. He spent the next twenty-three years in service to the people of that island nation.

Many of Père Laval's parishioners were poor and uneducated former slaves. He lived with them, learned their language, fasted when supplies were short, and slept in a packing crate. His medical training was useful to his ministry, as he worked to improve conditions in agriculture, sanitation, medicine, and science. Laval was tremendously successful - he is believed to have made 67,000 converts in his parish.


Laval House on the campus of Duquesne University, named after the Spiritan missionary

Jacques Laval was beatified on 24 April 1979, the first of 1,340 people beatified in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

The date of Père Laval's death has become a national holiday in Mauritius, marked by a festival and procession to the site of his tomb.

The annual pilgrimage to the parish church of Sainte-Croix originated on the day of his funeral procession in 1864. The funeral oration commented on on the words of Isaiah: Evangelizare pauperibus misit me — "He sent me to announce the Gospel to the poor". The casket was followed by more than thirty thousand weeping people and buried opposite the church in Sainte Croix. Every year, offerings and ex votos are placed at the site of his tomb from the night of 8 September until the end of the feast of the beatus.

A building on the campus of Duquesne Universitymarker in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker, a university administered by the Holy Ghost Fathers, is named "Laval House" in honor of Blessed Jacques Laval.


- Fr J. Fitzimmons c.s.sp. - Father Laval, Jacques-Désiré Laval - The « Saint » of Mauritius

- Richer than Gold by Mary Campion

- Eileen Cowper - Blessed Jacques Laval, Apostle of Mauritius

It's not a national holiday in Mauritius.


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