Laura was the first child born on April 5, 1891 to Senora Mercedes Pino and Jose Domingo Vicuna, a soldier who belonged to a noble Chilean family. A civil war broke out and Senor Vicuna had to flee his country. A few days after the birth of the second child Julia Amanda, Senor Vicun, worn out physically and mentally, died, leaving his wife and children alone. Seeing that she could not survive, she decided to leave the country. She finally found work at a large "hacienda" owned by Senor Manuel Mora. He was a typical Argentine "gaucho", a dreamy Latin lover and a shady character. Senora Mercedes let herself be won over by his promises of help, and accepted his protection. His financial support would allow her to enroll her two girs as pupils in the Salesian Sisters' school in Junin, but at what price! Laura was very happy living under the serene guidance of the young missionary Sisters. She discovered God, His love, and allowed herself to be surrounded by it. God's love stimulater her to love in return. Thus Laura made herself all to all, helping them in any way she could. She was a leader and everyone's friend. Laura accepted God's love. Laura was fascinated by the ideal of the Sisters and secretly hoped to consecrate herself to God in the service of her brothers and sisters. "I wish Mamma would know you better and be happy", she often prayed before the tabernacle. Laura was distressed about her mother's situation with Senor Mora; her mother was indeed far away from God and Senor Mora was the cause. The struggle for living and providing for her daughters had wearied her. In a moment of stress and discouragement, she had given in to his demands. But Laura would do her best to give her mamma God's friendship once again. Love is stronger than death, love creates and maintains life. Deeply believing this, Laura said to the Lord: "I offer you my life for that of my mother". The winter of 1903 at Junin was extremely severe, with persistent rain and dampness. Laura became weaker with each passing day; she was wasting away. Although her mother took her home to Quilquihue where the climate was ore pleasant and helpful, there was no improvement in her health. Laura knew she would not recover. God had accepted her offering-her self-immolation. Senora Mercedes remained day and night at her bedside, surrounding her with every care and attention. Laura kept looking at her tenderly. Now it was time to reveal her secret. "Mamma, I'm dying, but I'm happy to offer my life for you. I asked Our Lord for this". Senora Mercedes was appalled. She fell on her knees sobbing. She understood everything in a flash. "Laura, my daughter, please forgive me...O dear God, please forgive my life of sin... Yes, I will start again." Laura's face was not serene and at peace.
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By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
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