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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 Merici’s 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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