Saint-Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Mauritius

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Entree de la Cathédrale Saint-Louis

The accelerated pace around Saint-Louis Cathedral during the week

We are now in Cathedral Square, in the shadow of a large Bois-Noire on the left side of the church, just outside the Commercial Court. The comings and goings are at an accelerated pace as we have just passed 9 o'clock, the morning rush hour. Despite the fact that St Louis Cathedral is located at the exit of the eastern part of the capital, we are dazzled by the movement around it. The continuous honking of car horns, the shouts of students from two nearby colleges, namely Muslim Girls College and Collège de Lorette de Port-Louis, but also the sirens of police cars escorting criminals to court, this mix of sounds animates the perimeter.

Description of the Saint-Louis Cathedral

We then move towards the huge stone building that houses the cathedral. The new structure is slightly larger than the previous version. However, the façade, flanked by its two stone towers, almost exactly reproduces the style of the old cathedral. The interior is decorated with statues, paintings and furniture from the old cathedral. The altar facing the people is the one that once stood in the choir of the Holy Cross Church and under which the body of Blessed Father Laval lay from 1868 to 1870. In 2007, the Cathedral was completely renovated. Indeed, as part of the 160th anniversary of its accession to the status of cathedral, the building underwent major renovations to restore its dignity in the heart of the city. The structural work, which took place from February to August 2007, required a huge amount of funding. In accordance with church tradition, the bishop is buried in his cathedral. Below the chancel floor of St Louis Cathedral lie the five bishops: Monsignors Hankinson, O'Neil, Bilsborrow, Meurin, and Leen. As of 19 July 2009, Cardinal Margéot will be present.

Several other churches before the Saint-Louis Cathedral on its site

This cathedral was the seat of the bishop of the diocese of Port-Louis and was built after several other churches between 1752 and 1756. In 1760 and 1773, the church was destroyed by hurricanes. A new church was built, but the building collapsed again. It was Sir Robert Farquhar, the English governor, who decided to restore the building in 1782. He made sure that the building was fitted out and had a harmonium installed from Europe. In 1819, structural problems reappeared. The gaps were filled until Bishop James Leen had the whole building demolished and rebuilt. The work took 3 years (1930-1933). The parish church became St Louis Cathedral in 1847. The altar is that of the church of Sainte-Croix, under which the body of Father Laval lay from 1868 to 1870. In early 1782, a new church was built on the site of the first one. During the French Revolution, the Colonial Assembly held its sessions there. But problems resurfaced and the church was again condemned. From 1795 onwards, religious ceremonies were no longer held there.

Blessed Jacques Désiré Laval: A life of compassion and service a studious young Norman

1803-1830: Jacques Désiré Laval was born on 18 September 1803 in Croth, a small village in the Eure region of Normandy. He had a twin brother, Michel, who lived for a short time. Before him two daughters were born: Adélaïde and Gertrude. A brother: Auguste, and a sister: Justine, came after him. His parents, Jacques Laval and Suzanne Delérablée, came from wealthy farming families. His father is the mayor of the commune and is esteemed by all "like a little king in his country". He is a hard and authoritarian man, his wife is affectionate and tender. She welcomes the poor and it is not unusual for ten or twelve beggars to dine at home and sleep in the sheepfold or attic. Jacques Désiré is a slim, delicate child, not very expansive, very emotional and tender. 

Cardinal Jean Margéot: Bishop Emeritus of Port-Louis

Born in Quatre-Bornes on 3 February 1916, son of Joseph Margéot and Marie Harel, Jean Margéot was a student at the Collège Père-Laval and the Collège Royal. At the age of 17, he was admitted to the French Seminary in Rome and did his ecclesiastical studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he obtained the Licentiate in Philosophy and the Licentiate in Theology. He was ordained a priest on 17 December 1938 in the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome. 

Bishop Amédée Nagapen (1930-2012): Historian of the Diocese of Port-Louis

Bishop Nagapen was born in Port Louis on 23 October 1930. After brilliant studies at the Collège Royal in Port-Louis, he gave up the possibility of a good career. He entered the Colonial Seminary of Croix-Valmer in France and was ordained priest on 24 February 1955 in the seminary chapel by Mgr Gaudel, Bishop of Fréjus-et-Toulon. He returned home on 19 July 1955 and was appointed to several parishes on the island. In August 1967, he went on study leave to St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Canada, where he obtained a degree in social sciences. 

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