Daughter of Jose Domingo Vicuna and Mercedes Pino. Laura's father
was a soldier, and Laura was born 3 months after the outbreak
of civil war in Chile. With her husband in arms, and herself and
her infant in peril, Laura's mother moved across the Andes to
raise the girl in Las Lajas, Argentina. Laura's father was killed
soon after, and to survive, Mercedes became the mistress and common-law
wife of a man named Manuel Mora.
Mora paid for Laura to attend a boarding school run by the Salesian
Sisters, where the girl was extremely happy and helpful. Made
her First Communion on 2 June 1901, a decisive moment in her life.
"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." She tried then, at age ten, to join the Salesians,
but her bishop recommended she wait.
Home for Christmas holidays, Laura had to fend off the repeated
amorous advances of Mora, finally being forced to flee the house
to avoid him. She prayed to be spared the life her mother was
leading, offered her own life if they could escape from it, and
asked her confessor again for permission to join the Salesians.
Because he knew of that no matter how convenient it was, Laura
had a true call to the religious life, he permitted it. She joined
the Sodality of the Children of Mary on 8 December 1901.
In late 1903, Laura became severely ill, and returned to her
mother. On 14 January 1904, in a drunken rage, Mora began ordering
the mother and daughter around. Laura tried to run from the house,
but Mora caught her and beat her unconcious. Though she recovered
conciousness, Laura never recovered her health, dying eight days
later from a combination the disease and abuse. When she learned
of her daughter's offer to die for Mercedes, the mother left Mora
and returned to the Church.