Saint of the Day for 27 January: St. Angela Merici
Saint Angela Merici: Life, Vision and Legacy of the Foundress of the Ursuline Order
St. Angela Merici
March 21, 1474, Desenzano on Lake Garda
January 27, 1540, Brescia
1807, Rome, Pope Pius VII
O worthy Bride of that Lamb of God who feeds only among the lilies, you who always preserved the whiteness of your virginity by edifying the whole world by the constant practice of the most beautiful virtues, obtain for us, we beseech you, the grace that, after the example of you, we may promptly flee all the pleasures of sense, live in the flesh according to the spirit, and fill the mysterious lamp of our soul with the oil of charity and good works. Let us so fall in love with the angelic virtue of purity, that by our conversion we inspire others with the love of it, and thus make ourselves worthy to enter the fortunate choir of your companions who together with you enjoy a special vision of their God, and so be it. Poter, Hail and Glory Be.
Desenzano del Garda
St. Angela Merici, a virgin, who first took the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis and gathered young women to be trained in works of charity; then, she established under the name of St. Ursula a female Order, to which she entrusted the task of seeking perfection of life in the world and educating adolescent girls in the ways of the Lord; finally, in Brescia she rendered her soul to God.
The Saint and Mission
St. Angela Merici is an extraordinarily important figure in the history of Catholic spirituality and education, whose mission left an indelible imprint. Her life was characterized by a deep dedication to the education and formation of young women, a field in which, in her time, there was great need but few resources. Angela Merici’s mission was revolutionary for her time. She understood the crucial importance of female education not only as a means of knowledge but also as a tool for spiritual and personal growth. By founding the Ursuline Order, she created one of the first groups of women religious dedicated to the education of girls, challenging social conventions and barriers that limited the role of women in society. Angela Merici’s work was driven by a vision that integrated faith with practical education. She did not just teach religious doctrine; she was committed to providing a comprehensive education that included the skills and knowledge needed to live a full and meaningful life. This holistic approach to education was revolutionary and laid the foundation for modern girls’ educational institutions. Her mission was fueled by a deep sense of compassion and responsibility for young women who were often neglected by society. Angela Merici saw education as a way to equip these young women not only with education, but also with the moral and spiritual strength needed to face the challenges of life. In conclusion, St. Angela Merici was not only an educator and a religious; she was a pioneer who paved the way for a significant change in the way women were perceived and educated. Her legacy continues to inspire, proving that passion, vision and commitment can transform society in profound and lasting ways.
The Saint and Mercy
St. Angela Merici is a shining example of mercy in the field of Catholic education and spirituality. Her life, dedicated to the education and spiritual guidance of young women, reflects a deep sense of compassion and understanding for the needs and challenges that the girls of her time faced. Angela Merici’s mercy was not just a feeling of sympathy for the less fortunate, but manifested itself in concrete and innovative actions. By founding the Ursuline Order, she embarked on a revolutionary path, laying the foundation for women’s education at a time when opportunities were limited. This choice was rooted in a vision of mercy that saw education as a means to not only elevate the social status of women, but also to enrich their spiritual lives. Her approach to education was imbued with a deep understanding of and care for the personal growth of her female students. Angela saw each girl as a unique individual, deserving of respect and opportunities to develop her talents and potential. Her mercy extended beyond the classroom; she viewed her students as part of a larger community, encouraging them to serve others and contribute to the common good. St. Angela Merici’s life teaches us that mercy can be a powerful catalyst for social and personal change. Her example shows that when education is grounded in values of understanding, respect and care for others, it has the power to transform not only the lives of individuals but also the whole of society. His legacy continues to inspire, reminding us that true mercy is an action that has the capacity to liberate human potential and nourish the spirit.
The Ursuline Congregation
The Ursuline Congregation, founded by St. Angela Merici, represents a fundamental chapter in the history of education, especially for women, within the Catholic Church. Its creation in the 16th century was an act of profound vision and courage, marking a significant step in promoting the formation and education of young women. The Ursulines’ innovation lay in their approach to education. At a time when educational opportunities for women were extremely limited, the Ursulines dedicated themselves to providing education that went beyond religious learning to include subjects such as literature, science and the arts. This educational model was revolutionary because it saw women’s education not only as an end in itself, but also as a means to enrich society as a whole. The Ursulines’ mission extended beyond the walls of the classroom. They were deeply engaged in the life of their communities, showing an example of lived faith and service to others. Their influence was not limited to the educational sphere; they contributed to the formation of women who would become key figures in their families and communities, positively influencing future generations. The Ursuline Congregation is thus much more than a religious order; it is a movement that changed the course of educational and social history. Their legacy is a testimony to the transformative power of education when it is rooted in values of equality, respect and love. Their story continues to inspire and guide, reminding us that investment in education, especially women’s education, is one of the most effective means of building a more just and compassionate society.
She was born in Desenzano on Lake Garda in 1474. Watched over by her pious parents, she diligently guarded from her earliest years the lily of virginity, which she proposed to keep intact throughout her life. She abhorred all mundane pomp, even to the point of disfiguring her face and cutting off her beautiful hair, akin to pleasing only the heavenly Bridegroom of virgins. When death kidnapped her beloved parents, she was taken in by her uncle, together with one of her little brothers. There she lived in retreat, penance, with the cilice and…