JANUARY 22. Laura Vicuña, who aimed to die sinless
Patroness of abuse victims, incest victims, loss of parents, and martyrs
“Suffer silently. Smile always.” - Laura Vicuña
Laura del Carmen Vicuña’s father was a soldier. With her husband at war and her infant in peril, her mother moved across the Andes. Her father died when Laura was three, and her mother went to work in a ranch to support her two daughters. Soon after, Mora, the prosperous ranch owner, propositioned Laura’s mother; in return, he offered a Christian education to her girls. Laura’s mother complied. By some accounts her mother was Mora’s mistress; by others, his common law wife.
PIOUS SCHOOL GIRL TIMES
While in school, Laura developed a strong interest in the Catholic faith. Upon seeing the tabernacle there, Laura called it “Jesus’s little house” and blew it a kiss.
When Laura received her first Holy Communion, she expressed a desire to die sinless. "Oh my God, I want to love you and serve you all my life," she wrote in her notebook. "I give you my soul, my heart, my whole self." At ten years old, she tried to become a nun, but her bishop advised her to wait. (A year later, he permitted her to take private vows)
While at school, her teacher explained the sacrament of marriage. Realizing her mother’s grievous sin, Laura fainted in class. From then on, she increased her prayers and sacrifices in hope of her mother’s conversion.
When she returned home that year for the holidays, Laura had to fend herself from Mora’s “amorous advances” which “threatened her virtue.” According to one account, Laura was “repelled by his whiskey-laden breath.” Eventually she fled his house, offering her own life to God if her mother’s life would be spared. She passed the whole night alone in the darkness outdoors.
:( :( :(
A few years later, Laura’s kidneys began to fail as a result of wading through frigid water to save younger pupils when her school flooded. She returned to her mother for care. Upon noticing Mora’s untoward interest in Laura, her mother packed up her children and moved them away from the ranch. Soon, Mora arrived on their doorstep to demand that Laura surrender to his lusts. When she refused him, he whipped and kicked her, and thrust her across his horse’s saddle to carry her declining body to his ranch. Aware that the locals were eying him, he dumped her body in a ditch and left. Reunited with her mother, Laura’s last words were: “Before I die will I have a chance to see you repent?” “I am happy to offer my life for you. I asked the Lord for this.” Her mother, moved by her daughter’s sacrifice, assented.
At her canonization, Pope John Paul described Laura as “the Eucharistic flower of Junin de los Andes whose life was a poem of purity, sacrifice, and filial love.”