Saint Angela Merici, 1474-1540
Saint Angela was born in a small Italian town at the edge of a lake in Lombardy in 1474. When she was ten, her parents died, leaving her and her older sister orphaned. They went to live with an uncle in another town. Angela was a very devout child and after her sister died, she prayed constantly that she might be in Heaven.
As Angela grew up, she saw that many poor young women were not able to go to school and get a good education, so when she was 20 she began teaching girls in her home. Gradually she invited other unmarried women and friends to help her teach poor girls. She and her friends would go to the girls’ homes to teach them how to read and write and also to tell them about Jesus.
She was so successful in her new approach to education that Pope Clement asked her to come to Rome to help run a religious order of nursing sisters. Angela was honored by the Pope’s request, but she believed that God wanted her to keep teaching instead.
When she was 61 years old, she founded the Company of St. Ursula, an order of nuns, with twelve other women. The Ursulines, as they became known, were the first Catholic sisters to come to the new world. In 1639, they built a mission in Canada to teach the native people. Even today, the Ursulines operate schools in the United States and Canada.
Saint Angela was canonized in 1807 and we celebrate her feast day on January 27.
Discuss: Saint Angela dedicated her life to teaching others and teaching them about God. Who has been the most influential teacher in your life? Why?
Seeing Those in Need
Saint Angela spent her life caring for others. In order to care for others, we need to open our eyes to see the needs of others.