Saturday, September 17, 2011

Little Laura Vicuña and the Injustice Against Our Saints

I don't remember what possessed me to Google information about Blessed Laura Vicuña a few days ago, but what I found shocked me. They have recently discovered a photograph of her. A photograph. As in what she actually looked like. Not some European painting of her, based on what one person said she looked like or really based on little at all. (St. Therese, for example, we do have a few photographs of her but little paintings of her actually looks like her. How does this look like this?! It always bugs me)

The photo next to an old painting
of her. From the article
"The Real Features of Laura Vicuña"
Laura Vicuña, in her actuality, really struck me. Because she reminded me of the girls I worked with in Bolivia. Her facial features are even similar - after all, Chile is Bolivia's neighbor. For me, while it's true Laura doesn't look happy in the picture, I can see the pain in her eyes - the pain of being abused, the pain of being regretted by the Sisters she loved because her mother lived with a man she wasn't married to (though, at the time of this photo, I don't think that had happened yet). Laura is a Salesian blessed, whose story I have conflicting feelings about, but one whose name was so important for those years I worked with the Salesians. I even lived in the Dormitorio Laura Vicuña.

The discovery of her photograph got me thinking about my unhappiness with depiction of saints. After all, the European painting of Laura Vicuña on the right looks little like what she actually looked like. I especially thought of those most important to me now - Vincentian saints. To my knowledge, we have no photographs of any Vincentian saints, besides the Daughters of Charity Blessed Lindalva Justo de Oliveira and maybe Blessed Giuseppina Nicoli (I can't tell if that's a photo or painting) In our defense though, some of our most important saints lived before the invention of the camera.

But, nevertheless, we need better depictions of our saints. St Elizabeth Ann Seton, for one, is always so serious and emotionless in any depiction of her. St Louise is always so plain. St Vincent can even be depicted as mean sometimes. In any depiction of St Catherine Laboure, you would think that all she did was pray all day, instead of working with the poor while spreading the Miraculous Medal around the world. And there are more Vincentian saints, whose depictions as boring and serious, don't correspond at all with their amazing story.

These saints deserve better artists to paint/draw them. If you're out there, artists, I beg you, even if there's no photograph of them like that of Laura Vicuña, please give justice to our great saints!

1 comment:

  1. laura vicuna is my favourite saint and I belong to her group

    ReplyDelete

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