©Photographe|Serge GELABERT

The virgin with the parasol

An illustratrian of popular fervour

Protection against the volcano’s evil charms

The legend of the Virgin with the Parasol dates from the early 20th century, when Monsieur Leroux, owner of Bois-Blanc in Sainte-Rose, placed the statue in his fields to protect his crops. One day, a lava flow crossed his land and burned his fields, but the statue miraculously remained in place, spared by the lava.

There are no homes in the enclosed area of Piton de la Fournaise, because of the high risk of lava flows. On the section of the Nationale 2 highway, also known as the Route des Laves (lava route), between Saint-Philippe to the south and Sainte-Rose to the north, you can stop just before leaving the enclosed area to place a bunch of flowers at the foot of the Virgin with the Parasol. You’ll find a large car park with a view of the sea and a knoll on which is perched a statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue is protected by an iron parasol, as though to protect it from the unlikely consequences of a violent eruption. Hundreds of candles and floral bouquets are placed at the foot of the guardian virgin.