Mauritius is the longest living democracy in Africa. The island nation is also an inexhaustible source of architectural prowess in the form of temples, churches and mosques. Unsurprisingly, Mauritius is dotted with Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. These structures also reflect on the French and British colonial past, an unforgettable part of Mauritian history. These churches are eye-catching in wherever region they are found. Also, 30.7 per cent of Mauritians follows Christianity, the second largest after Hinduism according to the census made in 2011. The Mauritian Creole and Franco-Mauritian groups are mostly Christian. And also a significant part of Sino-Mauritian ethnic groups follow Christianity. Here is a list of must-visit churches in Mauritius.
1. Saint Therese Church
Located in Curepipe, Saint Therese Church was completed in 1872. With tall central spire and two side spires, the church occupies a dominant position in the city of Curepipe. From the time of its foundation, the church has dominated the town landscape and emerged as one of the best attractions in Mauritius. Creating a serene sense of light and space, the interior of this church is covered with intricate designs. The stained glass windows and white vaulted ceiling never fail to impress tourists and Mauritians.
Completed in the year 1864, Notre Dame de la Visitation church is located on the Royal Road close to La Caverne in Vacoas. Though it is a grand church today, its incarnation was humble and simple. Its imposing square tower is considered to the most defining feature and the highlight of the church. It was not added to the main building until the 1930s.
3. Notre Dame Des Anges
The handsome and pale yellow church of Notre Dame Des Anges welcomes you with a signboard bearing 'beware of children'. Located in Mahebourg city, a statue of Pere Laval in this church is considered to be the main attraction here. Laval, a French Catholic priest, is credited with converting 67,000 people to Christianity during his 23 years in Mauritius. He died in 1864 and was beatified in 1979 during a visit by Pope John Paul II. First built in 1849, multiple restorations and repairs over the years changed the architectural design of the church. Its mighty wooden roof and timbers continue to inspire everybody who visits the church.
4. Chapel and Shrine of Marie Reine de la Paix
Located in Port Louis, the church of Chapel and Shrine of Marie Reine de la Paix is surrounded by pleasant ornamental gardens. It is a contemporary structure and is popular with locals and tourists. The church is situated in a hilltop position, which offers great views of the city of Port Louis. The church is of historical importance because Pope John Paul II officiated his first mass in October 1989 when he visited Mauritius.
Saint James Cathedral is one of the famous landmarks in the capital city, Port Louis. This octagonal spire of Saint James Anglican Cathedral was used by sailors who entered the harbour to ascertain their position easily. The church was opened on Christmas day in 1831 and grew so much in popularity. Due to the increasing number of visitors and tourists, two wings had to be added to the church in 1846, so that it could cater to the needs of increasing congregation. Even today, Saint James Cathedral stands proud and is a well-loved emblem of Port Louis.
6. Notre Dame de l'Auxiliatrice
Located in Cap Malheureux, Notre Dame de l'Auxiliatrice is a beautiful church with red-roof and is surrounded by colourful trees during the summer. Cap Malheureux is a fishing village that takes its name back from 1810 when the British landed here to defeat the French in a sudden inland attack. To admire the picturesque church overseeing turquoise waters, many visitors pay a visit to Notre Dame de l'Auxiliaire every day. The mass on Sunday morning is attended by locals, who and the mass is given in Mauritian Creole. The cheerful chorus is accompanied too.
7. St. Francoise d'Assise
Located a few steps away from the botanical gardens of Pamplemousses, the church of St. Francoise d'Assise is a beautiful church and is worth visiting. Known to be the oldest temple on this island nation, the church dates back to the year 1756. Its stained glass windows and surrounding gardens make it a pleasant church, and the atmosphere is peaceful. Also, just a few metres away from this church lays a graveyard that has been guarding coffins for more than 200 years.
8. Cathedral St. Louis
First built in 1756, Cathedral St. Louis is one of the oldest churches in Mauritius. The church was initially intended for worship by the habitats of capital city Port Louis. The church was requisitioned for military purposes during the Seven Years' War. The church was rebuilt in 1814 after a series of exhausting cyclones inflicted damage on the walls of this building. The renovation was based on its original plan itself, and the Latin cross continued to be the defining feature of the church. Previously, there used to be an old fountain in front of the cathedral. It served the purpose of carrying water from Pouce stream towards the city. The fountain is still present today but doesn't carry any water.
9. St. Marc Catholic Church
The church is located in Flic en Flac. Situated on the banks of Black River Gorges, the church is a famous destination for all weddings among Mauritians. The interiors of this church are very impressive, and the surroundings give you a respite from your routine. From morning prayers to reading the bible, every event is held with great pleasure. Many people attend the mass and choir is sung cheerfully. The church was constructed in the year 2000 and has gained popularity over the years.
10. St. Michel church
Located in the city of Grand Gaube, the service in this church takes place in either French or Mauritian Creole. Grand Gaude is a town located in the northern part of Mauritius. The mass takes place at around 4 PM on Saturday and 7 PM on Sunday. Surrounded by palm trees, the church is one of the prominent landmarks in Grand Gaube. If you visit this town, you cannot afford to miss visiting St. Michel Church.
You will be surprised to see these churches, some of whose history dates back to more than 200 years. It is always nice to visit churches where gossips never paddle lies and where all are sweet and kind. Churches in Mauritius provide the perfect atmosphere to feel blessed. Do not miss hearing the church bells ring when you visit Mauritius.