National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Jan. 27, St. Angela Merici, Founder

 |  NCR Today

Today is the feast of St. Angela Merici, founder of the Ursulines. She was born c. 1474 and died on Jan. 27, 1540.

In 1535, "Angela founded her company in Brescia . . . to enable women to live consecrated lives in their own homes and keeping their occupations. At a time when women were expected to choose between a husband or a cloistered life, it was a daring move! As the company required no dowry, it was open to women of all social backgrounds."

-- Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, Ohio

Click here to read Angela's Counsels, Legacies, and Rule. Chapters II and III of the Rule are interesting: "How they should be dressed" (no "silk, or velvet, or silver, or gold"), and "On the manner of behaving in public" (no "weddings, or balls or jousts" and no "standing about on balconies").

--Angela's Writings from the web site of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, Maple Mount, Kentucky

"The most striking aspect of Angela's rule is that, like mystic women, the Ursulines were in direct contact with God without the mediation of the clergy. Angela outlined this radical position in the chapter on obedience. In her rule obedience was chiefly due to God and to the advice he sends continuously and directly to the Ursuline's heart: 'above all: to obey the counsels and inspirations which the Holy Spirit unceasingly sends into our hears' (Reg. VIII)."

--from
Spirituality, Gender, and the Self in Renaissance Italy: Angela Merici and the Company of St. Ursula (1474-1540) by Querciolo Mazzonis, Catholic University of America Press, 2007.

But the Archbishop of Milan, Charles Borromeo, rewrote Angela's Rule in 1582 and "inserted the confessor as mediator between God and the Ursuline's heart."

Mazzonis also provides a clear explanation of Angela's reasons for founding her Company.

"As far as teaching activities were concerned, the image of the Company of St. Ursula as devoted to the catechization of its members cannot stand. The Colonelle were not teachers, and the virgins under their responsibility were not their pupils. . . .

"To ignore her theology and focus on her teaching method is rather reductive. . . . It is probably that the successive development of the company as a teaching order has induced historians to assume that Angela herself started the educational project."

Even though Angela Merici did not specify what work the members of her Company should undertake, the Ursuline Order after her death became well-known for educating girls.

Ursulines were the first nuns to come to the new world. Ven. Marie de l'Incarnation led Ursulines from Tours to Quebec in 1639, and in 1727 Mere Marie Tranchepain and eleven other Ursulines traveled from Rouen to New Orleans. The schools the Ursulines established at both sites are still operating.

Click here to see the Founder Statue of St. Angela Merici by Pietro Galli in St. Peter's Basilica.

A very happy feast day to all Ursulines, to all students at their schools all over the world, to all alumnae and alumni of Ursuline schools, to all Associates, and to all friends of the Order of St. Ursula!

JMJAU

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Friends of NCR 300x80 web ad.jpg

NCR Email Alerts