Christianity in Mauritius

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Christianity in Mauritius is a religion adhered to by 32.7 per cent of the population of Mauritius.[1] Of these, 80.3 per cent are Roman Catholics. The Mauritian Creole and Franco-Mauritian ethnic groups are mostly Christian and significant parts of the Sino-Mauritian ethnic group are also mainly Christian.[2] Mauritius got independence during 1968 and there was no state religion in Mauritius defined in the constitution. The religious organizations present at the time of independence, namely, Roman Catholic Church, Church of England, Presbyterian Church, Seventh-day Adventist, Hindus and Muslims are recognized by parliamentary decree.

Roman Catholics were the majority Christians with a total of 26 per cent of the total Mauritian population, while all others, totaling six per cent, were Seventh-day Adventists, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Assemblies of God. The major and the oldest church in Mauritius is the St. Louis Cathedral, Port-Louis, while St. James Cathedral is another historic Cathedral.

History[edit]

Old and new images of St. Louis Cathedral, Port-Louis

Christianity first came to Mauritius with the first inhabitants, the Dutch. However, the Dutch abandoned the island in 1710.[2] The French brought Christianity again when they arrived in 1715. From 1723, there was a law whereby all slaves coming to the island must be baptised Catholic.[3] This law does not seem to have been strictly adhered to.[3] During December 1810, 11,500 soldiers from Britain in 70 vessels started to north of Ille de France from Rodrigues to neutralize the island from the French to prevent them from using it as a base to attack India. Decaen, the French Governor, was expecting the forces in Port Louis and was surprised to see them in the Ille de France. He readily surrendered with a token resistance in the capital. The British forces allowed the French soldiers to leave and allowed the settlers to stay back. To prevent inhibition in the mind of settlers, the British pledged to preserver the laws of the land, religion, custom, language and property.[4] After they had taken Mauritius from the French during the Napoleonic Wars, the British tried to turn Mauritius Protestant during the 1840s and 1850s.[3]

Another account states that Christianity was the first religion in the island country and is the religion for both the Creole and the White population, with more than 80 per cent being Sino-Mauritans.[5] But Franco-Mauritians, usually having the same religion and denomination as the Creoles, have sometimes emphasised their differences from the Creoles by practising more traditionally, for instance celebrating Mass in Latin.[6]

Christian faiths[edit]

Religious census[7]
Faith Total %
Hinduism 48
Roman Catholic 26
Islam 17
Other Christian 6
Others 3
* Others - Buddhism, Animist & others
* Other Christian - Seventh-day Adventists, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Assemblies of God

Roman Catholics were the majority Christians with a total of 26 per cent of the total Mauritian population, while all others accounted for six per cent of the total population. They were Seventh-day Adventists, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Assemblies of God. Among the spread of Christianity in the nation, Port Louis and the island of Rodrigues had a majority of Roman Catholics.[8]

Reformed tradition in Mauritius dates back to 1598 during the period of Dutch. The Presbyterian Church in Mauritius is considered an inheritor of the tradition, but in spite of having Parish Ministry in just three places, it has strong links with Parishes in Scotland, France and Switzerland. Roman Catholic sect is believed to have been induced by the French during 1721. It is part of Bishop's Conference of Indian Ocean, it had 47 parishes and 97 priests as of 2001. The Anglican Church in Mauritius was introduced during the British from 1810 and in modern times, is a part of Province of Indian Ocean with 16 parishes and 12 priests as of 2001. The Seventh day Adventist was formed in 1914, Brethren Church in 1942, New Jerusalem Church in 1907, Christian Science in 1950, Jenovah's Witness in 1951 and Assemblies of God in 2000.[9]

Government policies[edit]

Mauritius got independence during 1968 and there was no state religion in Mauritius defined in the constitution. The nation had no indigenous population nor any indigenous tribes or religion. The religious organizations present at the time of independence, namely, Roman Catholic Church, Church of England, Presbyterian Church, Seventh-day Adventist, Hindus and Muslims are recognized by parliamentary decree.[7] The constitution and other laws protect freedom of religion. The groups recognized by the government before independence receive an annual sum for paying their adherents. The government allows overseas missionary groups to operate on a case-by-case basis, although there are no rules that prohibit proselytizing activities. The missionaries should obtain both residence permit and work permit to operate, which is provided for a maximum of three years, without any extension. There are lot of government holidays, most of which are religious indicating the heterogeneity of religions.[7] As per the International Religious Freedom report of 2012 published by the United States Department of States, there were no incidence of religious abuses. The report also indicates other religions claim that Hindus have a majority in the government, while Hindus have sought a policy for anti-conversion.[7]

Churches[edit]

The major and the oldest church in Mauritius is the St. Louis Cathedral, Port-Louis. Originally built by French during the 18th century, the church was destroyed in a cyclone during the early 19th century. It was rebuilt during 1925 and expanded with a twin tower during 1932. A fountain built during 1786 by Governor Vicomte de Souillac and an oil painting depicting Biblical scene by A. Richard during 1855 are the major artefacts in the church. St. James Cathedral, located on the Poudriere Streeet is locally called cyclone shelter with its two metre thick wall of the old structure.[10] St. Andrews, built in 1851 and St. Johns' in 1856 in Port Louis are prominent churches built by Patrick Beaton, the first minister of Church of Scotland in Mauritius.[11]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Resident population by religion and sex" (PDF). Statistics Mauritius. p. 68. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Christianity history in Mauritisu" (PDF). Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Watson, James L. (1980). Asian and African systems of slavery. University of California Press. pp. 158–159 of 348. ISBN 978-0-520-04031-1. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  4. ^ Richards 2011, p. 24
  5. ^ Richards 2011, p. 36
  6. ^ Hylland Eriksen, Thomas (1998). Common denominators: ethnicity, nation-building and compromise in Mauritius. Berg Publishers. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-85973-959-4. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d Juergensmeyer, Mark; Roof, Wade Clark, eds. (2011). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. SAGE Publications. p. 762. ISBN 9781452266565. 
  8. ^ "Mauritius 2012 International religious freedom report" (PDF). United States Department of State , Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. 2012. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  9. ^ Fahlbusch, Erwin, ed. (2003). The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 3. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 472. ISBN 9780802824158. 
  10. ^ Adey, Shaen; McIntosh, Fiona (2004). Seven Days in Mauritius and Rodrigues. Struik. p. 46. ISBN 9781868728275. 
  11. ^ ORR, Brian J (2013). Bones of Empire. lulu.com. p. 162. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]