Unique Gifts | St Angela Merici 2 on Prayer Cloth (Patron for Courage)
St Angela Merici 2 is dedicated to the Italian religious educator and founder of the Ursulines. Her deep prayer life and relationship with the Lord bore the fruit of mystical encounters with God. She was born on March 21, 1474 in Desenzano, in Lombardy.
At just 10-years-old, Angela and her older sister became orphans and went to live with their uncle in Salo. There they led a quiet and devout Catholic Christian life. However, her sister died young. Consequently, Angela was saddened by the fact the that she had not had the opportunity to receive her last Sacraments. Also, she was concerned for her sister’s eternal salvation.
Angela was inspired by the Holy Spirit to dedicate herself to the Lord. She was to give her life in service to the Church to help everyone grow closer to the Lord. Also, still filled with grief, she prayed for God to reveal the condition of her deceased sister’s soul. In a vision, she learned her sister was in Heaven with the company of saints. Angela became increasingly more devout and joined the Third Order of St. Francis. She also pledged to remain a consecrated virgin.
Angela begins her teaching schools
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Angela became convinced there was great need for a better way of teaching young girls. Also, she opened her own home to them and began to teach them herself. She devotedly taught them the Catholic Christian faith. By her example and instruction, she taught them to how to pray and participate in the sacramental life of the Church. She evangelized and catechized these young girls, opening them up to the life of grace.
Another vision from the Lord revealed to Angela that she was to found an institution with other consecrated virgins. This would help to further devote their lives toward the religious training of young girls. These women had little money and no power. However, they were bound together by their dedication to education and commitment to Jesus Christ and service to His Church.
Angela’s charming nature and natural leadership qualities made this a successful endeavor. Also, she was so successful she accepted an invitation from the neighboring town, Brescia, to establish a similar school there.
In 1524, Angela eagerly took on the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land. During the journey, she was suddenly struck with blindness while on the island of Crete. This didn’t stop her though; she continued the journey with as much enthusiasm as she would have if she had her vision. She made the entire pilgrimage and visited the sacred shrines. On the journey back home, her sight was miraculously restored while she was praying before a crucifix in the same place where she had become blind. The Lord showed Angela through this experience that she must never shut her eyes to the needs she saw around her.
Angela forms the Ursulines under the patronage of St ursula
St Angela Merici 2 Company of Saint Ursula, or the Ursulines, was the first group of women religious to work outside of the cloister and became the first teaching order of women in the Catholic Church.
On November 25, 1535, Angela gathered together 12 young virgins and laid down the foundation for the Order of the Ursulines. This was at a small house near the Church of St. Afra in Bresica with Angela’s Company of Saint Ursula, under the patronage of St. Ursula.
This was the first group of consecrated women to work outside of a formal cloister or convent in her day and became the first teaching order of women in the Catholic Church. As a result the community existed as what is called a “secular institute” until years after Angela’s death.
Before her death, Angela reassured her Sisters who were afraid to lose her in death: “I shall continue to be more alive than I was in this life, and I shall see you better and shall love more the good deeds which I shall see you doing continually, and I shall be able to help you more.”
St Angela Merici 2 died on January 27, 1540. Clothed in the habit of a Franciscan tertiary. St Angela Merici was buried in the Church of St. Afra in Brescia.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.