Angela Merici created a new way of life for women. Born in Desenzano, a town in northern Italy, she grew up happily on the family farm till being orphaned in her teens.
In mid-life, Angela’s compassionate heart took her to Brescia, a bustling Renaissance city, to console a grieving widow. Through dangers and adventures, her pilgrim spirit drew her to shrines, to Rome, and to the Holy Land.
Meanwhile, her soul’s journey led to the center of a profound relationship with God. Jesus Christ was her way to God, and to him she dedicated her life. A visionary experience of angels and her deceased sister on a ladder between earth and heaven filled her with life-long trust.
Discovering others who shared her vocation in the world, she gathered a circle of women. They promised their lives to God as the Company of St. Ursula on November 25, 1535. Angela developed a way of life based on her experience as a single lay woman: simple spiritual practices and sisterly relationships.
Angela Merici died on January 27, 1540.
She had created an alternative future for women, to whom patriarchy offered only marriage or monastic life. In the Company of St. Ursula, single women consecrated themselves to God while living in their homes and working at their jobs. Her lay spirituality is alive today.
In the twenty-first century, Angela Merici still leads people to God.
ca. 1474 Born in Desenzano, Italy
1490s Stays with relatives in Salò, after her parents’ death
1516 Moves to Brescia
1524 Makes pilgrimage to the Holy Land
1525 Makes pilgrimage to Rome
1535 Founds Company of St. Ursula, November 25
1540 Dies, January 27
1807 Canonized as “Saint Angela”
In immense goodness, God has chosen me to be mother, both alive and dead, of such a noble Company….
– Angela Merici