Feast Day: January 27
Born:1474 :: Died:1540
Angela was born in the small Italian town of Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy. Her parents died when she was ten. She and her only sister, who was three years older, loved each other very much.
A rich uncle took the girls into his home. While still suffering from the loss of her parents, Angela's sister also died. The older girl died even before a priest could arrive to administer the last sacraments.
Angela worried about her sister's soul but Jesus revealed to her that her sister had been saved. Angela felt peace return to her own soul and thanked the Lord in prayer. She wanted to do something to show her gratitude. So she promised to spend the rest of her life serving Jesus totally.
She joined the Secular Fransiscan Order when she was fifteen and received a vision telling her that by her example she would lead other holy women to God.
In Crete, while on a pilgrimage to Holy Land, she was struck blind. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going on, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she could see. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, she got back her sight at the same place where it had been lost.
When she was about twenty-two, Angela began to notice that the children of her town knew little about their religion. Angela invited some of her girlfriends to join her in teaching religion classes. Angela's friends were anxious to help her with the children.
At that time there were no religious orders of teaching sisters. No one had ever thought of such a thing. St. Angela Merici was the first to gather together a group of women to open schools for children.
On November 25, 1535, twenty-eight young women offered their lives to God. It was the beginning of the Ursuline order. Angela placed the congregation under the protection of St. Ursula and this is how they got their name.
The women stayed in their own homes at first. Because of many difficulties, it was a long time before they could live together in a convent. Angela died on January 27, 1540, when her congregation was still in its beginning stages.
Her trust in God had seen her through many hard tests in her lifetime. There was no doubt in her mind that the Lord would take care of the mission she had begun. And so he did.
The Ursuline Sisters have now spread to many countries. The order continues its works for Jesus and his Church, especially in the education of children and young adults.
E-mail this page to a friend