Monthly Archives: January 2014
Welcome to KNOW YOUR SAINTS! a Sunday blog that features a saint whose feast day is celebrated during the following week. Be sure to find the poll located at the end of this post to vote for upcoming featured saints!
Thanks for joining me!
St. Angela Merici
1470 – 1540
Feast Day January 27th
“Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.”
Is this a quote from one of the world’s leading psychologists?
Perhaps from one of today’s popular religious leaders?
Would you be surprised to see that it’s a quote from the 1500’s? Would you be more surprised to see that it was from a penniless woman of little renown?
No? You’re not surprised at all? Well, I’m going to have to work harder to impress you then, aren’t I? Perhaps you’ll be impressed by the time I’m done introducing you to St. Angela Merici…
Angela, like so many of us, found her calling in life through experiencing hardship. She and her sister were orphaned when they were barely teenagers, and just a few short years later, Angela also suddenly lost her sister, who had not received her last rights before her untimely death. Angela was in a panic, and implored our Lord to receive her sister’s soul. In a vision, Angela was reassured that her sister was safe in heaven.
At this point in her life, it seems that Angela saw her little sister in the girls and young women in her community; poor, uneducated, and uncatechized. She saw these women go on to become mothers and raise families, yet they struggled, not knowing how to lead their families in either faith or reason. Angela desired not a family of her own, but instead became a Third Order (or secular) Franciscan, seeking out the virtues of chastity and poverty. She began to teach poor girls as best she could, which allowed them to receive the sacraments and better their lives. She recruited others to help her teach, and was fairly successful, despite the time period. Remember, this was the time of the Reformation, Henry VIII, and the Renaissance. The education of women, particularly poor women, was seen as a waste of time and effort. However, she was not completely overlooked. Her ability to organize, and the success of her efforts was recognized by Pope Clement VII, who asked her to lead a religious order of nurses. She turned down his offer, knowing that education was to be her vocation.
She did, however, make a pilgrimage to Rome, wanting to visit holy shrines and pray. It wasn’t far – She was in Brescia, Italy at the time. Before she arrived she was struck blind, and her companions offered to end the trip, and return home. Angela was undaunted, and completed the trip, experiencing the shrines, if not seeing them. On her way home, praying in front of the same crucifix where she lost her sight, she miraculously re-gained it. I’ll let you ponder why God would allow this, for surely it benefitted her in some way to avoid seeing the sights she so wished to visit.
Energized by her pilgrimage, Angela founded what would eventually become known as the Company of St. Ursila with just 12 like-minded women, who led lives of chastity, poverty, and obedience, but stayed in their own homes, and were not (yet) an organized religious order. Their goal was to evangelize families with solid Catholic education aimed at future wives and mothers. The women, who would later become known as Ursulines, were largely successful. Angela was 61 years old. Just a few years later, she passed away, looking forward to seeing her family and Christ in heaven. She was canonized by Pope Pius VII in 1807.
Though your endeavors began 500 years ago, the world still has a long way to go in educating women, especially those who are poor. Dear St. Angela Merici, please pray for those women in need of education, and watch over us as we continue your efforts. Let us not forget the importance of a well educated mother, and help us to raise them up in prayer. Amen.
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