Our first summer in Junin De Los Andes was spent building a house, exploring all the amazing rivers, and me trying to figure out who this person was. I came across her frequently in my shopping adventures in Junin. Pretty much at any commercial enterprise I would find some version of this rendering framed and predominately displayed, often behind the cash register. I believe the organic vegetable stand had her floating in a Lucite block amongst the tomatoes. I think it took a few weeks seeing this image in a very subconscious way before my brain asked me why is Anne Frank being lionized in this sleepy Mapuche town in northern Patagonia? Is Junin a sister cities with Amsterdam? Was there a Anne Frank/Patagonia connection? Had the Frank Family spent a fly fishing vacation in Junin?
Now that these faces are together, there really isn’t a compelling likeness, but there is an essence shared. It might be the common thread of a promising life taken early. However, their deaths and afterlife were quite different.
A little about Laura. She was Chilean by birth and apparently from an important family. However, Laura’s mother was widowed early in Laura’s life and their family’s fortune changed. She and her mother migrated to Argentina to find work. Laura’s mother found work as a domestic on a large estancia. The farm foreman had an abusive alcoholic relationship with Laura’s mother for many years. Laura was sent away to a school/convent where she received the calling from God to become a sister. After several years of her mother’s continued abuse, Laura asked God to take her life in exchange for the mother being saved from further abuse and suffering. Soon after this conversation with God, both Laura and her mom’s bad boyfriend were dead. Laura is on the road to sainthood. She has been blessed and beautified by John Paul II. Up next is canonization where she needs at least on miracle to be come a saint. Apparently, she cured a smoking nun of lung cancer in 1955 when the nun prayed to Laura, the patron of abuse victims. Her feast day is January 22nd which is also Sir Francis Bacon, Michael Hutchence and Linda Blair’s birthday.