The village of Grande Riviere Noire in Mauritius gives way to a winding road, ‘le bois puant’, name given most probably to flowering shrubs, stinking in the surrounding area. At a detour, on the right, a thatched roof catches the eye. An open-air building, a small chapel, authentic, ecological, a cultural heritage is dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, far from Portugal where Mary, dressed in a white mantle edged with gold appeared for the first time in 1917.
Next to a huge Eucalyptus tree, introduced from Australia to fight malaria, the shrine in front of which a candle is lit, invites me in soothing calm to do an introspection. Turning around, I face the chapel of genuine sobriety. The soul immediately gets connected to nature. Quietude in this silence intersperses with the melodious songs of the chirping birds. In the background, the stunning Black River peak, jade and emerald in colour, contrasts with the cloudless blue sky.
Wooden benches are placed on each side of a short aisle to join the altar behind which a cross is delicately inclined. On the wall, a copy in black and white of The Shroud of Turin is carefully displayed and holds an equally important place as the paintings illustrating the Passion of Christ.
This small chapel, so different from the large cathedrals, built in noble materials, topped with cane leaves, is part of the Mauritian cultural heritage. Our Lady of Fatima in Black River is unique in the world by the landscape, the quietness and peacefulness of the surroundings.
In the yard, the Bois de Reinette, an indigenous plant contributing to the restoration of our habitats, is well worth a pause. This place of worship in the open air, is a must-stop over during the excursions in private car proposed by Mautourco. It’s an authentic heritage to be preserved…
Lza M Natur
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