Mon, 27 Jan 2014 22:19:43 +0000
Today, January 27th, is the Feast Day of St. Angela Merici, a very innovative and courageous lady.
She was born on March 21, 1474, in the province of Brescia, Lombardy, Italy, having been left an orphan at the age of ten. She was raised by her uncle, and upon his death, went to live with her four brothers.
As a young lady, she joined the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), wherein she lived an austere life teaching children, desiring like St. Francis of Assisi, to own nothing. She was appalled at the ignorance of poor children regarding their Faith, whose parents failed to catechize their children. Angela was a lovely lady whose social graces and gifts motivated other women to join her in providing regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.
She lived with a family in Brescia, being told in a vision that she would some day found a religious community Her work flourished and her successes were well-known.
She took a trip to the Holy Land, but during her journey whilst in Crete, she became blind. She remained on the pilgrimage, visiting sacred shrines still with enthusiasm and fervor. When she was returning from her travels, she received her sight back at the same place that she lost it.
At the age of 57, Angela had twelve girls in her religious community. Four years later, she had 28 in her community. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula, the patron of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women. Its purpose was to Christianize family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit, took no formal vows. A teaching congregation of women was a new development, wherein the religious community existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.
St. Angela died on January 27, 1540, and was canonized in Rome on May 24, 1807 by Pope Pius VII. She is the patron saint of sickness, handicapped people and loss of parents.
Let us follow the example of this very courageous and interesting lady, who saw ignorance and fought it, with her deep Christian Faith and love of reason functioning with Faith.
Sources: EWTN website; Saint of the Day, Edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.