Wednesday, January 27, 2016
ST ANGELA MERICI - FEASTDAY 27TH JANUARY
Angela was born in the small Italian town of Desenzano, Italy, around 1474. Her parents died when she was ten. She and her only sister, who was three years older, loved each other very much. A wealthy uncle took the girls into his home. Still suffering from the loss of her parents, Angela was struck again when her sister also passed away.
The older girl had died even before a priest could arrive to administer the last sacraments. Angela worried about her sister’s soul. Jesus revealed to her that the girl had been saved. Angela felt peace return to her own soul. She thanked the Lord in prayer. She wanted to do something to show her gratitude. This desire led her to promise to spend the rest of her life serving Jesus totally.
At that time there were no religious orders of teaching sisters. No one had ever thought of such a thing. St. Angela Merici was the first to gather together a group of women to open schools for children. On November 25, 1535, twenty-eight young women offered their lives to God. It was the beginning of the Ursuline order. Angela placed the congregation under the protection of St. Ursula. This is how they got their name. The women remained in their own homes at first. Because of many difficulties, it was a long time before they could live together in a convent. Angela died on January 27, 1540, when her congregation was still in its beginning stages. Her trust in God had gotten her through many hard tests in her lifetime. There was no doubt in her mind that the Lord would take care of the mission she had begun. And so he did.
The Ursuline Sisters have spread to many countries. The order continues its works for Jesus and his Church, especially in the education of children and young adults. Angela was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius VI in 1807.
She was also a member of the Third Order of St Francis and so we remember her fellow Franciscans today