Feastday: October 21
Patron People suffering from racial discrimination, Orphans, Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Immaculate Mary and of Saint Catherine of Siena
Beatified By: 25 April 2004, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: 12 May 2013, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis
As a young woman, Laura Montoya Upegui, of Jerico, Colombia, became an elementary schoolteacher to help support her widowed mother. Having developed her spiritual life through devotion to the Eucharist and meditation upon the Scriptures, Laura felt drawn to the religious life of the Discalced Carmelites. Yet her zeal also instilled in her a longing for an active, missionary apostolate, particularly to assist the Indian peoples of South America. Laura was determined to combat the anti-Indian bigotry in her society, and to give her own life to the Indians’ evangelization. Finally, at the age of forty, having resolved to “become an Indian with the Indians to win them all for Christ,” Laura journeyed to Dabeiba with four other women to begin a religious congregation devoted to the service of the Indians, the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and Saint Catherine of Siena. As mother superior, she imparted to the congregation a rule that combined contemplation with action. After having spent the last nine years of her life confined to a wheelchair, Mother Laura died on October 21, 1949.
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By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.
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