Salesian Saints of January: Blessed Laura Vicuña (1891-1904)

17 Jan 2019

January 22, optional memorial (obligatory memorial for the FMAs)

 

. Some of the pupils and staff of the sisters’ school, including Laura Vicuña, the little girl in the center of the photo. It’s the only known photo of her. Its precise date is uncertain.

Pastoral note: In the U.S., the Mass of Blessed Laura may not be celebrated on the 22nd, even by the FMAs. The bishops of the U.S. mandate a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children (see the Ordo), specifically either the Mass “Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life” or that “For the Preservation of Peace and Justice.” The Liturgy of Hours for the memorial of Bl. Laura might be celebrated; or the entire observance could be kept on the 23rd, which is a free day.

 

From La Santità nella Famiglia Salesiana, ed. Pasquale Liberatore, SDB (Turin: LDC, 1996), trans. Fr. Mike Mendl, SDB

Laura Carmen Vicuña was born at Santiago, Chile, in 1891. When her father died suddenly, her mother sought refuge with her two daughters in Argentina. In 1900 Laura was accepted as a student at the school of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Junin de los Andes. The next year she made her first Communion and, like St. Dominic Savio, made the resolutions to love God with her entire being, to practice mortification, to die rather than sin, and to make Jesus known and make reparation for offenses against him.

After seeing that her mother was living in a sinful situation, she offered herself to the Lord for her mother’s conversion. Her first biographer, Father Crestanello, tells us: “Laura suffered in the secret of her heart…. One day she decided to offer her life and to accept death gladly, in exchange for her mother’s salvation. She also asked me to bless this ardent desire of hers. I hesitated for a long time.”

She undertook more strenuously some ascetical practices, and with the consent of her confessor made the vow of the evangelical counsels. Consumed by her sacrifices and by illness, she died at Junin de los Andes, Argentina, on January 22, 1904. On her last night in this world, she confided to her mother:  “Mama, I’m dying! I’ve asked Jesus for some time, offering him my life for you, to obtain your return to God…. Mama, before I die, may I have the joy of seeing you repent?” On the day of Laura’s funeral, her mother returned to the sacraments and began a new way of living.

Her body rests in the chapel of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians at Bahia Blanca, Argentina.

The Salesian Sisters’ school at Junin de los Andes early in the 20th century.

 

Her cause of canonization was introduced in 1955, and she was declared venerable in 1966.

On September 3, 1988, on the “Hill of the Youthful Beatitudes,” in the presence of thousands of youths taking part in Confronto ’88 [the annual youth days at Colle Don Bosco], Pope John Paul II beatified Laura and proposed her to the youths as a model of Gospel consistency, lived to the point of giving her life on a “mission of salvation.”