La Cure, is the place where the priests and other helpers of the church have their offices. In Port Louis, La Cure, is located right opposite the St Louis Cathedral.
The building is colonial style and has been there for more or less 200 years, I don’t have the exact dates and I don’t think it is completely original either – there has most probably been changes and repairs over the centuries. However I know that the Blessed Père Laval (1803-1864), a most revered missionary lived and died there (1841-1864).
Père Laval is a missionary who came from France in 1841 and was asked to take care of the freed slaves and prisoners. Many at that time converted from the Anglican Church to the Catholic Church. At first the white asked him the ‘Moralise the freed slaves’ but then they didn’t like him very much – his conversions were much spoken off, as the freed slaves stopped drinking as much, and the black mistresses would leave the white men to lead a righteous life. He also gave them the right to sit in church, at the same places as the white people. Slavery was abolished in 1835 in Mauritius, but obviously that didn’t give the freed slaves the same rights as the white men straight away.
The freed slaves were not allowed to use the main entrance to the gardens and buildings when they would come and meet Père Laval for their catechism (or other matters) – the main entrance was only for the white people. Instead they had to use a small door located at the rear of the garden.
Not only could the freed slaves not use the front entrance, but as you might notice, the door is not very tall and there is pretty high step. This was done on purpose so that the people using the door had to bend – thus not forget how ‘inferior’ they still were (I suppose, that would be the reason). For the little note, it is said that Père Laval also used this door.
And there is the story of the slave door.
There is a little sign above the door that makes mention of Père Laval’s mission in the 18th century (Mission des Noirs – The Black Mission) – however that is not reason why I know the story. My father-in-law is a fervent Catholic and has done (and is still doing) much for his Church. He is the one responsible for the door being replaced and still being there today. It is not the original door – that most probably got lost over the years, but the wood for the door and the old hinges were chosen on purpose.