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Company of St Ursula, Lancaster

St Angela Merici & the Company of St Ursula

Company of St Ursula members Angela was born and grew up on the shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy. As a young woman she was deeply touched by a spiritual experience that shaped the direction of her subsequent life. In the “Vision of Brudazzo”, as it is known, she saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven on which women and angels ascended and descended.

Angela came to understand that she was to live and guide others to live, at a radical level, the union, symbolised in this vision, between the divine and human. To this end she founded in Brescia the Company of St Ursula on 25th November 1535. The Company received diocesan approval the following year and papal confirmation by Paul III in June 1544. The Company spread rapidly but in 1810 was suppressed Napoleon It was re-established in 1866 in Brescia by Elisabetta and Maddalena Girelli.

Company of St Ursula members Today secular Ursulines are organised in many diocesan Companies. Most of these are united in a federation which was recognised as one Secular Institute of Pontifical Right on May 25th 1958. There are common Constitutions based on the writings of St Angela, who provided a way of life for women who wished to consecrate themselves totally to God by living the Evangelical Councils of perpetual celibacy, poverty and obedience in the world. This was a daring innovation at a time when society expected a woman to marry or enter a convent.

Today, a single woman seeking admission to the Company is given a two year period of formation leading to temporary commitment for two and then a further three years. At the conclusion of these five years, vows are made for life. Secular Ursulines live this call in the world in whatever happens to be their personal circumstances and are financially responsible for themselves. However, they are not alone but make their commitment in companionship with other members of the Company with whom they meet regularly for prayer and mutual encouragement.

Fairtrade stall Finally, Ursulines, like Angela, are part of the local Church and its mission. Their motivation, as bequeathed by Angela, is to do everything for the glory of God and the good of souls.

There is a group of the Company in Lancaster
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