Saint Ursula and Companions

Today, we commemorate St. Ursula and companions.

St Ursula, virgin and martyr, is a saint of the 3rd or 4th century. She was accompanied by some virgin companions who were also martyred.

She has been venerated by the whole of Christendom for many centuries. Some of the elements of Ursula's story may be legend, but her existence and sanctity are proven.

Her colorful story provided the basis for some of the most beautiful works of art in medieval and renaissance Europe.

Tradition tells us that Ursula was a beautiful and virtuous princess, the daughter of Dionotus, the King of Cornwall. By order of the Emperor Maximilian, she and many young women were betrothed to some of his subjects in Armorica. Ursula had already consecrated her life to Christ and desired to remain a virgin, so she insisted on many difficult conditions being fulfilled before marriage. She demanded three years grace to go and visit the various shrines of Christendom, on pilgrimage. She demanded that she and her ten bridesmaids be accompanied by a further thousand companions. They visited Rome and were met there by Pope St Cyriacus, but on their return journey they were carried ashore by a violent storm, and landed at Cologne. There they encountered a party of Huns who wanted to take them as wives, but they refused. Filled with hatred for these Christians, the Huns killed them by shooting them with arrows. Ursula was the last to die and encouraged the others to remain true to their faith. All their bodies were heaped into a mass grave, where later the basilica, which Clematius rebuilt, was erected in their honor. Her relics are venerated in the ancient European city of Cologne - home to World Youth Day in 2005.

Patron: Catholic education (especially of girls); Cologne, Germany; educators; holy death; schoolchildren; students; teachers; Ursuline order.

Prayer

ST URSULA,
You had the courage and leadership
To gather others to yourself
And unite them in love and discipleship
Of Jesus our Lord and Savior.
Like you:
May we be witnesses of prayer and devotion to Christ;
of Christian service and unity in discipleship.
When we encounter resentment and ill will,
May we meet it with courage and unswerving faith.
Together may we honor and serve
the Christ for whom you died
and for whom we live.
Intercede for us
to this Jesus whom we all love. AMEN.

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