Legend tells us that Ursula was a 4th century princess who gathered maidens to accompany her on a voyage which was to be taken by ship. In Rome, many people joined the pilgrimage because they were edified by Ursula's piety.
When returning from Rome, Ursula and her companions were caught in a violent storm at sea. The ship was blown off course and they fell into the hands of the Huns near Cologne, Germany, where they were massacred. Attila, the leader, offered to spare Ursula if she would become his wife. Ursula spurned him and was also killed.
In Europe, Ursula quickly became revered as protector and advocate of young women. Many schools and universities chose her as their patroness. Angela Merici, well aware of the legend of St. Ursula, and of her virtue and sanctity unto death, chose Ursula as patroness for her community. Her group of maidens became known as the Company of St. Ursula, now more popularly referred to as Ursulines.