St Ursula - Patron Saint of Education
The story of St Ursula is lost in the mists of time but tradition speaks of her as an English princess about to be given in marriage to a neighbouring prince.
Before this event Ursula asked to make a pilgrimage to Rome together with a group of young companions, daughters of the court nobility. The journey went according to plan, much of it following the course of the River Rhine. Ursula and her companions venerated the shrine of St Peter, received the blessing of the Pope and set out for home. On reaching Cologne, however, they found the city in the hands of a marauding pagan tribe – the Huns. Ursula and her party were all slaughtered and their relics are still venerated in the city.
In time Ursula became a very popular medieval saint, widely regarded as the patron of education. St Angela in Brescia in 1535 was simply responding to contemporary devotion when she placed her newly established company of young women under St Ursula’s patronage. Today Ursulines are to be found as educators in every continent.