Feast Day: January 22
Beatified: September 3, 1988
Venerated: June 5, 1986
Laura was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1891. Her father was a soldier. When civil war broke out, her father took Laura and her mother to another town across the mountains in Argentina so that they would be safe. Laura’a father died when she was only two years old.
Laura’s mother, Mercedes, had to find some way to support Laura and her new baby sister. After working as a cook for several years, she met a wealthy ranch owner named Manuel Mora. Mora promised Mercedes that if she came to live with him, he would send Laura to a boarding school taught by nuns. Mora did not promise to marry Laura’s mother.
Laura loved school. She was smart and did well. She loved learning about her faith and spent a great deal of time in prayer. On the day of her First Communion, she wrote, “Oh, my God, I want to love and serve you all my life” in her notebook. Some of her classmates shunned her for her piety.
But her happiness at school turned to worry when she returned home for a visit. Her mother and Mora were living as a married couple. Laura knew that this was a sin. She prayed that her mother would leave Mora and begin to live God’s Commandments again.
Mora stopped paying for her education, but given a scholarship, Laura returned to school. She told a priest that she wanted permission to join the convent. Although the priest believed the girl had a true calling from God, he told her that she was too young and would have to wait until she was older to make such an important decision.
As Laura grew older, Mora turned his attention from Mercedes to her. Laura refused his advances, and angered, he beat her badly in 1904. Weakened from the beating and already in frail health, she died just a week later at the age of 13.
Seemingly an answer to Laura’s prayer to God, her mother returned to the Church when her daughter died.
On Sept. 3, 1988, Laura Vicuña was beatified by Pope John Paul II.
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