Over the centuries, France has sent missionaries to many corners of the globe to preach and serve those who have never heard the Gospel before. One of them, Blessed Jacques-Desire Laval, is a more recent example.
Born into a pious family of simple farmers in 1803, Jacques initially decided to become a medical doctor. But after only four years of a medical career, he fell from a horse in an incident that could have killed him. Deeply affected, he “re-evaluated his life choices,” closed his practice, and went to study to become a priest.
After ordination, he was sent by his religious order to serve the people of Maritius. Slavery had only recently been outlawed on this island off the coast of Africa; helping the poor, uneducated freed slaves learn how to improve their living conditions became his life’s work. He also learned their language and served them through his medical knowledge.
Not only did sixty-seven thousand people eventually convert to the faith through Blessed Jacques’ witness, the respect he showed for people of other faiths earned their respect as well. Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, as well as Catholics, attended his funeral in 1864. He is commemorated by the Church on September 9, the date of his death.
Blessed Jacques, teach me how to show respect for all those around me.