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Colombia: Saint Laura Devotees Not Happy with TV Depiction

Colombia's devoted to their beloved Saint Laura are not happy with a new TV soap opera based on the Roman Catholic saint.
A woman holds up religious articles related to Mother Laura Montoya in the cathedral in Bogota, Colombia.
A woman holds up religious articles related to Mother Laura Montoya in the cathedral in Bogota, Colombia.AP Photo/Fernando Vergara / AP Photo/Fernando Vergara

A new TV soap opera in Colombia is causing quite the stir thanks to its main subject: the country's only Roman Catholic saint, Laura Montoya. The 24-episode mega-production is shrouded in controversy after devotees of the missionary nun known universally as Madre Laura filed a lawsuit seeking to correct what they say is an unseemly depiction.

Laura Montoya was born in Colombia in 1874, and went on to become a nun and teacher who devoted her life to protecting indigenous tribes from discrimination - if not outright violence - by the country's white elite. Her work on their behalf was emulated in poor, mostly black and indigenous communities across Colombia and today hundreds of missionaries from her order are in 21 countries, from Angola to Haiti.

File photo of devotees holding images of Colombian Saint Laura Montoya.

Montoya was canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI and her sainthood confirmed by Pope Francis a year later in a ceremony that saw fervently-Catholic Colombia rejoice with pride.

The TV network responsible for the talked-about new show is Bogota-based Caracol, known as one of the most-thriving telenovela factories in Latin America. The network is no stranger to this sort of attention, as most of the network's productions - with names like "Without Breasts There's No Paradise" and "Cartel of the Snitches" tend to follow more sinful story lines that are popular with audiences but are often criticized as inappropriate.

The Congregation of Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and St. Catherine of Sienna, the order founded by Montoya, says that despite repeated requests it was never consulted by Caracol about the script. The order also has denounced the telenovela over fears that it will depict romantic relationships they say never existed and tasteless dialogue by men criticizing Montoya's physical appearance.

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