Story of St. Angela Merici
Angela Merici was born in northern Italy in 1474. When she was a teenager she lost both parents. Despite opposition from her adopted family, she found herself irresistibly drawn to join the Franciscan Third Order.
She became an educator of women from all classes of society. Her vision was to serve the needs of the rich and poor alike. Her love and sensitivity to human needs won her the title, “Madre Angela,” from the people of Brescia, Italy. She based her work on a deep understanding of God’s love for all, respect for the innate dignity of each person and their potential in the eyes of God. Her vision for community encompassed the practical support of each individual, recognition of the gifts of all and power of gathering as a loving community.
At the age of 50, she decided to make the long pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This was indeed a big step into the unknown by someone born and bred in the country, with little education. It was also a courageous step to undertake this dangerous, almost six-month journey. She was already in “old age” for her day, and it was not customary for an unmarried woman to travel so far. But Angela was prepared to risk all the dangers to meet her one desire; to visit and pray at the holy places where Jesus had lived and died.
She had been warned about the dangers and risks that lay ahead, but she had placed all her trust in God that he would protect them on their journey. When the ship stopped in Crete on the outward journey, she was suddenly struck with a temporary blindness. Thus, when Jerusalem was finally reached, Angela bereft of her sight, had to be guided by hand by her companions to all the places that she had set her heart on seeing. She said later that she was able to see them with the eyes of her soul, just as if she had actually seen them.
In 1535, Angela established the Order of Ursulines in Italy, named for its patron saint, Saint Ursula, a martyr. She was the first woman in the history of the Church to draw up a Rule of life for women who wanted to lead a religious life outside the cloister.
Canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII, her feast day is January 27th. Each year we have a feast day Mass in celebration of St Angela Merici, her vision for education and her unique model of spirituality. She continues to be the inspiring model on which we base ourselves.
St. Angela Merici School continues to follow Angela Merici’s vision in educating all students and enabling each to maximize their potential in a nurturing, cooperative environment where excellence is encouraged and leadership is fostered.