On November 25, 1535, Angela Merici gathered 28 women to consecrate themselves to the service of God, under the patronage of St. Ursula.
Born between 1470 and 1475 in Desenzano, Italy near Brescia, Angela grew up on the family farm and learned to live with hardships early in life when her parents and sister died. Tradition tells us that Angela, longing for assurance of her sister's eternal happiness, had a vision in which she saw her sister in procession with angels and young girls. Although we are not sure what exactly Angela saw, we do know that she took her vision to be God's call to establish a community of women. However, she only established the Company of St. Ursula when she was in her sixties.
Contrary to the practice of cloistered religious of the time, the women of Angela's company lived in their own homes. They worked with the needy, especially in the eduation of young girls, and met monthly for prayer and mutual support. They wore no habit, but as the cloistered religious, they consecrated themselves to virginity, poverty and obedience. Angela died January 27, 1540, leaving the Rule for the young women and the Counsels and Legacies for the leadership of the fledgling community. Angela, acclaimed a popular saint even in her own time, was canonized May 24, 1807
Statue of St. Angela Merici by Helen Norman