Virgin and Martyr (1891-1904)
+ Laura was born in Santiago, Chile, only three months before civil war devastated the country. After her father’s death and, when Laura was only three months old, her mother fled with Laura and her sister to Las Lajas, Argentina. There, desperate to survive, her mother became the mistress—later, common-law wife—of a man name Manuel Mora.
+ Laura and her sister were sent to attend a boarding school run by the Salesian Sisters.
+ Laura made her First Communion on June 2, 1901. Although she was only age ten, she asked to join the Salesian sisters, but the local bishop would not allow it because of her mother’s situation.
+ The Salesian Sisters remembered Laura as being a prayerful girl who was obedient, friendly to her companions, and happy. During this time, she took Saint Dominic Savio, a youth who had been trained by Salesian founder Saint John Bosco, as a model for her life.
+ During her visit home for the Christmas holidays, Laura had to fend off Mora’s sexual advances and she offered herself in exchange for freedom for her mother. As a step in her vocational journey, her confessor, aware of all that she suffered, allowed her to make private vows and she entered the Sodality of the Children of Mary.
+ Late in 1903, Laura became ill and returned to her mother. On January 14, 1904, in a drunken rage, Mora, attacked and beat Laura for, again, refusing his advances.
+ Although she recovered consciousness, Laura died on January 22 from her illness and the abuse she endured. Before she died, Laura told her mother: “Mama, I am dying! For a long time I have asked Jesus, offering my life for you, so you will return to God… Mama, before I die, will I have the chance to see you repent?”
+ Blessed Laura Vicuña was beatified in 1988. Following her daughters’ death, Laura’s mother, Mercedes, left Mora and returned to the sacramental life of the Church.
For prayer and reflection
“The Lord stoops over the humble, to raise them up, as the Canticle of the Magnificat proclaims. This song of Mary leads us to think of many actual painful situations, in particular, that of women overwhelmed by the burden of life and the drama of violence, from women enslaved by the arrogance of the powerful, to children forced into inhuman work, to women obligated to surrender their bodies and spirits to the greed of men.”—Pope Francis, Angelus for August 15, 2016
O God, who gladden us today with the annual commemoration of blessed Laura, graciously grant that we may be helped by her merits, just as our lives are lit up by the splendor of her example of chastity and fortitude. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For a Virgin Martyr)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.