Friday, January 27, 2006
Today is the feast day of St. Angela Merici, the foundress of the Ursulines. Angela was born on March 21, 1474 at Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy and died on January 27, 1540 in Brescia.
Angela’s parents died when she was only ten years old. Together, with her older sister, she moved to the nearby town of Salo, to live with her uncle. When her sister died quite suddenly without receiving the last sacraments, Angela was deeply upset. At the age of 15, she became a Franciscan tertiary and greatly increased her prayers and sacrifices for the repose of her sister's soul. She asked God to reveal to her the condition of her deceased sister and He answered her prayer by showing her through a vision that her sister was in Heaven.
When her uncle died, she returned to live at Desenzano to make a life for herself. She was convinced of the need for women to be educated in their faith and converted her home into a school where she daily gathered all the girls of Desenzano and taught them the basics of Christianity. It was at this time that she received a vision, which led her to found a religious order who were to devote their lives to the spiritual education of young women. The school she established at Desenzano was so successful that she was invited to the nearby city of Brescia, to establish a school there, which she accepted.
During a pilgrimage to Holy Land, while visiting Crete, Angela was struck blind. This did not interrupt her trip, however, but she continued on the journey, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she still had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was miraculously restored at the same place where it had been lost.
In 1525, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her great holiness and her success as a religious teacher of young girls, invited her to remain in Rome; however, Angela returned to Brescia to live a quiet life, away from the limelight.
In 1535, Angela selected twelve women and laid the foundation of the order of the Ursulines in a small house near the Church of St. Afra in Brescia. She died only five years later. St. Angela's body is incorrupt. She was beatified in 1768 by Pope Clement XIII and canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.
She is the patron saint of physically challenged people, sick people, and of those who have lost their parents.
Quotes From St. Angela Merci:
Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.
We must give alms. Charity wins souls and draws them to virtue.
As our Savior says: "A good tree is not able to produce bad fruit." He says: A good tree, that is, a good heart as well as a soul on fire with charity, can do nothing but good and holy works. For this reason Saint Augustine said: "Love, and do what you will," namely, possess love and charity and then do what you will. It is as if he had said: Charity is not able to sin.
Mothers of children, even if they have a thousand, carry each and every one fixed in their hearts, and because of the strength of their love they do not forget any of them. In fact, it seems that the more children they have the more their love and care for each one is increased.
Be sincerely kind to every one according to the words of our Lord: "Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart." Thus you are imitating God, of whom it is said: "He has disposed all things pleasantly." And again Jesus said: "My yoke is easy and my burden light."
~ From Spiritual Testament by Saint Angela Merici