Angela Merici created a new way of life for women.
Born in Desenzano, a town in northern Italy, she grew
up happily on the family farm till being orphaned in
In mid-life, Angelas compassionate heart took
her to Brescia, a bustling Renaissance city, to console
a grieving widow. Through dangers and adventures, her
pilgrim spirit drew her to shrines, to Rome and to the
Meanwhile, her souls journey led to the center
of a profound relationship with God. Jesus Christ was
her way to God, and to him she dedicated her life. A
visionary experience of angels and her deceased sister
on a ladder between earth and heaven filled her with
Discovering others who shared her quest, she gathered
a circle of women. They promised their lives to God
as the Company of St. Ursula on November 25, 1535. Angela
developed a "Rule" (=guidebook) for this "Company"
(=spiritual companionship). It outlines simple spiritual
practices and sisterly relationships. For the women
who would lead the group, she dictated "Counsels"
and a "Testament."
Angela Merici died on January 27, 1540. The Catholic
Church canonized her as "Saint Angela" in
She had created an alternative future for women, to
whom patriarchy offered only marriage or monastic life.
In the Company of St. Ursula, single women consecrated
themselves to God while living in their homes and working
at their jobs. Her lay spirituality is alive today.
In the twenty-first century, Angela Merici still leads
people to God.
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