Intro | Our
History | St.Ursula
After its foundation in 1535, the young Company of St.
Ursula grew exponentially. Members shed the light of
faith, hope and love in their families, workplaces and
local communities. Formal approval was granted by the
Church in 1546.
Angela Mericis death in 1540 left the Ursulines
vulnerable. A patriarchal culture rejected independent
women. Unsure of how to respond, the Company divided
in 1555. Reunited and reinvigorated in 1560, they continued
their witness in their families and milieu, while also
meeting an emerging need of the Church: religious education
for girls and women, offered in parishes on Sundays.
In city after city, Companies arose. Companies in France
were reshaped into the monastic Order of St. Ursula,
which developed schools for girls and spread worldwide.
In Italy the Companies flourished until Napoleon suppressed
them (and many other religious groups) in 1810. Elisabetta
and Maddalena Girelli reconstituted the Company in Brescia
in 1866. Once again, Companies spread throughout Italy
and, in the twentieth century, much farther.
An international federation linking most Companies was
recognized by the Church as the Secular Institute of
St. Angela Merici in 1958.
In 2006, the Company in the USA affiliated with the Company of Canada. The Canadians had already been elder sisters and mentors to the new Company south of their border. Members in the USA thus became part of the worldwide Federation.
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