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St. Angela Merici

St. Angela Merici by Lewis Williams, OFS

Artist Narrative:

Born between 1470-75 on Lake Garda in Desenzano, Italy, the young Angela grew up in a loving family where she imitated saints. She worked hard in the family vineyard and farm. She was called early to commit herself to the Franciscan Third Order, in part to be able to receive more frequent Eucharist. She suffered the deaths of her beloved sister, both parents and a dear companion at a young age. During a harvest work break in the fields, she beheld a vision where heaven opened and angels and virgins traveled via ladder between heaven and earth. She recognized one of the virgins as her beloved sister (in other versions it was her dear companion), who told Angela that God wanted her to found a company of virgins in a new kind of community where they would remain in their homes and workplace, without habit, solemn vows or enclosure. Their call was to religiously educate poor girls. In this image, St. Angela holds the symbol of St. Ursula, in whose name she founded the company. The arrow was a symbol of St Ursula’s martyrdom. The grapes are symbolic of the eucharistic blood of Christ, so important to Angela, and also of her family’s vineyard. Even more, it is symbolic of the cluster of women she drew together in this unique way. Lake Garda is the setting. She died in her home at St. Afra’s church in Brescia, Jan. 27, 1540.

Her feast day is January 27.

Art Collection: 
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Angela was a Franciscan tertiary at age 15. She received a vision telling her she would inspire devout women in their vocation.

In Crete, during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she was struck blind. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going on, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.

In 1535 she gathered a group of girl students and began what would become the Institute of Saint Ursula (the Ursuline Sisters), founded to teach children, beginning with religion and later expanding into secular topics; her first schools were in Desenazno and Brescia.

Born: March 21, 1474 at Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy

Died: January 24, 1540 at Brescia, Italy; relics in the church of Saint Afra, Brescia, Italy; body incorrupt.

Beatified: 1768 by Pope Clement XIII

Canonized: 1807 by Pope Pius VII

Name Meaning: angel; messenger (=Angela)

Readings:

Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.
—Saint Angela Merici

We must give alms. Charity wins souls and draws them to virtue.
—Saint Angela Merici

As our Savior says: "A good tree is not able to produce bad fruit."

He says: A good tree, that is, a good heart as well as a soul on fire with charity, can do nothing but good and holy works. For this reason Saint Augustine said: "Love, and do what you will," namely, possess love and charity and then do what you will. It is as if he had said: Charity is not able to sin.

Mothers of children, even if they have a thousand, carry each and every one fixed in their hearts, and because of the strength of their love they do not forget any of them. In fact, it seems that the more children they have the more their love and care for each one is increased.

Be sincerely kind to every one according to the words of our Lord: "Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart." Thus you are imitating God, of whom it is said: "He has disposed all things pleasantly." And again Jesus said: "My yoke is easy and my burden light."

—Excerpts from Spiritual Testament by Saint Angela Merici

If according to times and needs you should be obliged to make fresh rules and change current things, do it with prudence and good advice.
—Saint Angela Merici