Angela was born to a farming family on the shores of Lake Garda in Italy in 1474. She received no formal education but her father would read daily from the book “The Lives of the Saints” and she was encouraged by her parents to develop her prayer life. It was during her teenage years she suffered the death of both her parents and her sister to whom she was very close. Following this double loss in her young life Angela prayed daily for a sign that her sister was in heaven. Sitting in the fields one day during harvest time Angela experienced a vision in which
“my sister stood before me and said to me that God wanted to make use of me to found a company of consecrated virgins”
and her dream was born. She realised God had called her to something new; something special; something full of hope, something that was filled with potential to bring change to the world;
Angela moved on in her life leaving behind Lake Garda, took up her pilgrim staff and walked many rocky roads in Italy, across continents to visit the Holy Land; she truly was a woman on a journey in her life seeking and searching God’s will for her.
Angela was a charismatic woman who attracted others to join her. When she finally arrived in Brescia and settled into a room beside the church of St Afra she had gathered many companions and was a woman respected by all classes of people as someone who listened and advised. She was known for always having an open door…but not only an open door; an open heart too.
Angela was by this time coming to her late fifties and still had not made a concrete foundation of her dream. All around her she saw sickness, disease, poverty and war…she was also very aware of the breakdown in family life…seeing these needs she sought to respond…and after many hours of prayer before the cross she discerned her way forward…to bring her dream alive…
At this time young women had two choices in life marriage (usually arranged by their parents) or to join the convent and live life behind the cloister wall. Angela came to see that to influence others to change their ways they needed role models amongst them…and so her dream was realised…Angela founded the Ursulines…and on the 25th November 1535 the first 28 young women signed the Book of the Company of Saint Ursula.
Religious life for women took on a new dimension…these young women would live at home or at their place of work if they were in service or in twos or threes in small houses…all scattered throughout the city of Brescia. Their life would be defined by prayer, fasting and reaching out to meet the needs of others and most importantly by their commitment to chastity.
The world had received a new and special gift…a gift that would spread over the coming years and centuries…
From Brescia in Italy across Europe…to France, to Germany, to Ireland, to England…
From France to the New World of the Americas…
From Ireland to Kenya where still today Ursulines of the Irish Union continue to be involved in education and training
From Belgium to India and from Germany to Australia…
So from a dream in a field in the Italian countryside Ursulines have travelled across the globe spreading the vision of Angela…
A woman who changed the course of history of religious life…
A woman who inspired others to reach for the stars and realise their dream of education and training for girls.
A woman who continues to inspire and challenge us today to be aware of the needs around us and to respond generously in love…following the teachings of the gospel
A woman who lives on in the hearts of thousands of Ursuline Sisters, companions and associates throughout the world
A woman whose message is as relevant today as it was in 1535…when she invited young women to…
Risk new things
Stick with it
Get on your knees
Then be ready for big surprises
Will you join us in keeping the dream alive?