Mother Laura Montoya is Colombia's First Saint

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Sunday was an important day in Colombia's history, as the first Colombian was canonized as a saint by Pope Francis. Mother Laura Montoya was named a saint by the Catholic Church, with livestreams broadcasting the moment to her hometown of Jerico, in the western state of Antioquia.

The nun, who was known as Mother Laura, founded the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and Saint Catherine of Sienna when she left urban society in 1914 with four other young women to live in the dense jungle.

"It was inconceivable that a woman would go live in the hills with the Indians, without any comforts, without any spiritual guidance," said Mother Estefania Martínez, who was with Montoya during her last three years and is now 90 years old.

Mother Montoya was born in 1874, and lost her father at the age of two. After her mother moved the family from Jerico to Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city, Montoya trained to be a school teacher but later felt she was called to be a nun, reports the Associated Press.

The mission she founded has spread to 20 nations. Living in the jungle and working with indigenous people took a toll on her health, and for the last decade of her life she was confined to a weelchair. Montoya died in 1949 at the age of 75. She's buried in Belencito, one of Medellin's poorest neighborhoods.

 

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