I was born in March 1474 at Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy. I was left an orphan at the age of ten and together with my elder sister went to live with our uncle in the neighbouring town of Salo. On his death I lived with my brothers.
I became a tertiary of St. Francis at the age of 15. In Crete, during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I was struck blind. I insisted on continuing with my journey, visiting the shrines with devotion and enthusiasm. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, my sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.
I once received a vision telling me that I would inspire devout women in their vocation. In 1535 I gathered a group of girl students and began the Institute of Saint Ursula (the Ursuline Sisters). My first schools were in Desenazno and Brescia. I then created the regula, a list of rules for those who would join the order. These include three oaths: of poverty, obedience, and holiness. I wanted my women to remain in the world, and to devote themselves to every sort of corporal and spiritual work of mercy; with particular emphasis on education. By educating children in the milieu in which they lived I strove to effect an improvement in social conditions.
I died on 24 January 1540 in Brescia, Italy, and was canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.
“Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.”
St Angela Merici
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