St. Angela Merici

Artist: 
Lewis Williams, OFS

Artist's 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.

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