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Colorizing Remarkable Women - Saint Laura, first and only Colombian Saint

Sainta Laura
Saint Laura - Photo Colorization by Claudia D'Souza, the Photo Alchemist

Saint Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena (26 May 1874 – 21 October 1949) - born María Laura de Jesús Montoya Upegui - was a Colombian Roman Catholic professed religious and the founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and Saint Catherine of Siena (1914).

She was well known for her work with Indigenous peoples and for acting as a strong role model for South American girls.

Pope John Paul II beatified her in 2004 and Pope Francis canonized her as a saint in mid-2013. Montoya is the first Colombian to be made a saint.


María Laura de Jesús Montoya Upegui was born on 26 May 1874 in Jericó in the United States of Colombia as the second of three children to Juan de la Cruz Montoya and Dolores Upegui; she was baptized that same day.

Her siblings were older sister Carmelina and younger brother Juan de la Cruz; a maternal cousin was Luisa Upegui. During the Colombian Civil War of 1876 her father was killed and the household left poor as a subsequent result of this. She was sent to live with her maternal grandmother due to this; her grandfather was Lucio Upegui

In 1881 the precarious economic condition saw her sent to an orphanage that her maternal nun aunt María de Jesús Upegui managed. Her aunt - in 1890 - enrolled her at "Normale de Institutoras" of Medellín to receive training to become a school teacher as a means of having income to support the financial difficulties her mother faced.

She was educated at the Escuela de Espíritu Santo in Amalfi and then in Medellín. In 1886 she went to live on a farm to care for an ill aunt and it was there that her desire to become a religious began. Montoya graduated as a teacher in 1893.

In 1908 she began working with the natives in the Uraba and Sarare regions where she founded the "Works of the Indians". Montoya wanted to become a cloistered Carmelite nun but felt growing within her the desire to spread the Gospel to those who had never met Jesus Christ. Montoya wanted to eliminate the existing racial discrimination and to sacrifice herself in order to bring them Christ's love and teachings.