Rome (Italy). In the liturgical memory of Blessed Laura Vicuña, whose birth into heaven is celebrated on 22 January, some testimonies tell of the bond between the young girl and Sr. Antonietta Böhm, both on their way to the glory of the altars.
The Servant of God suor Antonietta Böhm (1907 – 2008), whose diocesan investigation is underway for the Cause of Beatification, did not know Laura Vicuña personally, but was the Animator from 1942 to 1948 in the School of Junín de los Andes, where the girl was a resident student for 4 years.
Mother Antonietta breathed the yet genuine atmosphere of holiness that the young Blessed left in that environment. She said that the boarders called the classroom where Laura had been a student “the heart of Jesus”.
Being the Animator in Viedma, Mother Antonietta had the privilege of starting the process of canonization of Laura Vicuña in 1955. Monsignor Giuseppe Borgatti, SDB, Bishop of Viedma, asked her for help, recognizing in her the needed capacity for involvement and organization.
Mother Antonietta brought Laura’s sister Amanda from Chile to present her to the ecclesiastical tribunal. Subsequently, other testimonies came from Junín, including that of an elderly lady who had undertaken the long journey to express her veneration for the young girl.
Among the most relevant witnesses there were many ladies, Laura’s companions at the School, who recounted various episodes that remained vividly imprinted in their memory for more than forty years, and which became attitudes for a good life to be cultivated.
“Why won’t you ask for forgiveness?” said Laura with friendly simplicity. “Are you afraid? Come with me. I will show you that it is not difficult to free the heart.” Thus, she accompanied her companion to the Animator to apologize while she remained by her side, helping her to calm down and take over the helm of her life.
“I envied Laura,” says one of the women, already fifty years old, “and once, I vented all my wickedness. I kicked all the garbage she was carrying and made it all fall on the floor. Laura said nothing. She picked it up and finished her job. I have never forgotten her gaze, a gaze that immediately made me run to the Church to ask the Lord for forgiveness, and then to the Animator to apologize”.
Many years later, on 3 September 1988, Sr. Antonietta had “the joy”, she says, of attending the Beatification of Laura at “Colle Don Bosco” (Castelnuovo Don Bosco), close to the Pope, Saint John Paul II.
On the “Hill of the Beatitudes”, in the centenary of the death of St. John Bosco, Pope John Paul II had said, recalling the fruits of Holiness of the Salesian charism:
“We all know the splendid group of chosen souls, formed in the school of Don Bosco: St. Domenico Savio, Blessed Michele Rua, his first successor; the blessed martyrs Luigi Versiglia and Callisto Caravario; St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello, co-foundress of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; and today, also the young Laura Vicuña, who is being raised to the altars on the occasion of the Salesian Jubilee.
The new Blessed, whom we honor today, is the particular fruit of the education received from the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and is therefore a significant part of the legacy of St. John Bosco. It is therefore right to also turn our thoughts to the Institute of the Salesian Sisters and to their Foundress, to draw a deeper devotion to the Holy Founders and new apostolic ardor, especially in the Christian formation of young people”.
Still today the Pope’s words, “May Blessed Laura Vicuña enlighten all of you, young people, and always inspire and support you, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who were her educators!” resonate as a wish and an invitation to let oneself be enlightened by the example of “Laurita” to walk with her on the path to Holiness.