saint angela merici

Angela Merici

[ahn-je-lah me-ree-chee]

Saint Angela Merici or Saint Angela de Merici (March 21, 1474January 27, 1540) was an Italian religious leader and saint born in Desenzano del Garda, a town in the Province of Brescia, Lombardy, in northern Italy. She founded the Order of Ursulines in 1535 in Brescia.


Angela Merici was born on March 21, 1474 at Desenzano del Garda, a small town on the southwestern shore of Lake Garda in Lombardy. She and her younger brother were left orphans when she was about ten years old. Together they came to live with their uncle in the town of Salo. Young Angela was very distressed when her sister suddenly died without receiving the last sacraments. She joined the Third Order of St Francis, and increased her prayers to God so her sister’s soul could rest in peace. Legend says that she was satisfied by a vision of her sister in the company of the saints in Heaven.

Angela's uncle died when she was twenty years old and she returned to her previous home in Desenzano. Angela believed that better Christian education was needed for young girls; she then dedicated her time teaching girls in her home, which she had converted into a school. She later allegedly had another vision that revealed to her that she was to found an association of virgins who were to devote their lives to the religious training of young girls. This was a success and she was invited to start another school in the neighboring city, Brescia. She happily accepted this offer.

According to legend, though not substantiated by any extant documentation, in 1524, while traveling to the Holy Land, St Angela Merici became suddenly blind when she was on the island of Crete. Despite this, St Angela continued her journey to the Holy Places and was ostensibly cured of sightlessness upon her return, while praying before a crucifix, at the same place where she was struck with blindness a few weeks before.

In 1525, she came to Rome to gain the Indulgences. While doing this task, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her virtue and success with her school, invited her to remain in Rome. St Angela disliked notoriety, and she soon returned to Brescia.

On November 25, 1535, St Angela chose twelve virgins and started the foundation of the "Company of St Ursula" near the Church of St Afra, in a small house in Brescia. On March 18, 1537 she was elected "Mother and Mistress" (Superior) of the order. Three years later, she died on January 27, 1540. Her body was clothed in the habit of a Franciscan Tertiary and interred in the Church of St Afra, Brescia.

Saint Angela Merici was beatified in Rome on April 30, 1768 by Pope Clement XIII. She was later canonized on May 24, 1807 by Pope Pius VII.


In life, Saint Angela Merici often prayed at the tombs of the Brescian martyrs at the Church of St Afra in Brescia. She lived in small rooms that were part of what was then known as the "Monastery of the Lateran Canons." According to her wishes, after her death, she was interred in the Church of St Afra to be near the martyrs remains. There her body remained until the complete destruction of this church and corresponding area due to Allied bombing during the Second World War, on March 2, 1945. This structure and corresponding buildings were afterwards rebuilt and became known as the "Merician Centre."

Feast Day

Saint Angela Merici was not included in the 1570 Tridentine Calendar of Pope Pius V, because she was not canonized until 1807. In 1861 her feast day was inserted in the Roman Calendar, but not on the day of her death, 27 January, since this date was occupied by the feast day of ''"Saint John Chrysostom, but instead on 31 May. In 1955 Pope Pius XII assigned this date to the new feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen, and moved the feast of Saint Angela to 1 June. The celebration was ranked as a Double until 1960, when Pope John XIII gave it the equivalent rank of Third-Class Feast. Finally, in 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration, ranked as a Memorial, to the saint's day of death, 27 January.

(see both the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII and the General Roman Calendar of 1962). Pope Paul VI moved it once more, in 1969, to the date of her death, January 27 (see the Roman Catholic calendar of saints). Traditional Roman Catholics continue to celebrate her feast day on June 1, either as a "Double feast" or a "feast of the III class" (see the General Roman Calendar of 1962).


See also

External links


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