The city of Junín de los Andes slowly became a pilgrimage destination and a center of spirituality within an area of outstanding natural beauty, inviting the faithfuls to remember the moments of creation and life of Blessed Laura Vicuña, who offered her life and her youth for the surrender of her mother.
This young Chilean came with her mother and sister to this area in 1899, fleeing the civil war in her country and the hunger that had engulfed them sinco the death of her father. The family moved to farm Quilquihue in Junín de los Andes, and time later her mother started to live with the owner of the ranch, Don Manuel Mora. The sisters were educated at the Salesian school María Auxiliadora as pupils. As a teenager on a visit to the farm she was approached by her stepfather and being rejected he decided her to sleep in the open and to stop paying school. Laura decided to offer their lives for the conversion of her mother. That winter she was sick and her mother for accompany her decided to move to Junín. Mora angry about losing both women hit Laura who told her mother on her deathbed that she had offered her life to Jesus for her to leave Mora and convert. The mother promises to fulfill her wish, the child dying before her thirteen years.
From 1937 to 1958, her remains rest in the cemetery located on Avenida Necochea. They were then transferred to Bahía Blanca, where they are now.
After her death it has been an enormous Catholic faith that has awakened the exemplary life and good actions of Laura Vicuña. So much so, that there have been some miracles. Sister Ofelia Lobos Arellano, religious of Institute of the Hijas de María Auxiliadora, began to suffer from an incurable disease. For ten years she received all kinds of medical treatment, she was even performed three surgeries until she was diagnosed a few months of life.
Under those conditions she was invited to ask for healing Laura Vicuña, one night she felt that God would listen her through this young girl, and that would meet her prayers. Then she removed the oxygen that should be used permanently and rested. The next morning she awoke cured without any discomfort.
This miracle had been studied and approved by the church taking Laura to her beatification in 1988. This means, for Catholics, who recognize her virtues as fit for public worship. When visiting the land that saw it grow to Laura Vicuña, you inevitably feel the deep desire to be reflected in the crystal river of goodness, love and heroic donation.
It is undoubtedly the focal point of worship of the saint. Also It was there introduced the relic (a vertebra) of Blessed Laura Vicuña, already known as the "little saint" by the people of Patagonia.
At the beginning of these times, tehuelches and mapuches tribes shared these vast natural spaces. Twelve years after the founding of the city (in 1883), the Salesian priest Domingo Milanesio settled there and founded the Salesian house with two schools, with the purpose of evangelizing the Indians and feed and educate their children.
From that old parish church opened in 1895 few traces remain. The new style of the old school combines elements of Christian and Mapuche symbolism (the indigenous people of Junín de los Andes), whose implementation was entrusted to architect specializing in sacred art, Alejandro Santana. He sought to summarize the path taken by the church throughout its history in this town, so he decided to make a match between the European Gothic style of architecture, which had the temple (representing the old immigrant from the continent) and all that giving identity to the town of Junín de los Andes and linked to the culture of native peoples.
A good observer will see this combination in the courtyard and access to the temple, inside the same and even in the face, body type and clothing of the crucified and risen Christ, which are typical of the Mapuche culture.
Faced with a shrine is a santeria dedicated to the production and sale of images, historical books and biographies of this young woman that goes through the art and life of the town.
In a Latin American cantata was written: "Laura Vicuña,/ tu vida está en una cruz,/ tu sangre anda gritando/ por estas tierras del sur/ está en Chile, en la Argentina/ dando paz y dando luz". El Papa Juan Pablo II dijo: "La suave figura de Laura Vicuña gloria purísima de la Argentina y Chile, suscite un renovado empeño espiritual en esas dos naciones, y enseñe a todos que, con la ayuda de la gracia, se puede triunfar sobre el mal; y que la inocencia del amor, aunque denigrado y ofendido, al final resplandecerá e iluminará los corazones".