Company

of

St. Ursula

St. Catherine of Alexandria

 

We know that in 1535 Angela chose the feast of St. Catherine, November 25, to mark the official foundation of her company. She chose St. Ursula as patroness and gathered her daughters at the Oratory where they met regualarly. They assisted at Mass together, then in turn, each signed her name in the 'Book of the Company', a commitment which was the equivalent to a solemn promise of fidelity; and so with the minimum of ceremonial the first members of the Company of St. Ursula gave themselves to God: the Company was formed.

The fact that Angela had chosen November 25 for the foundation day had a clear meaning for her daughters. St. Catherine was a consecrated virgin of the primitive church and a saint to whom the Divine Child had given the ring of mystic espousal . The Madre, as Angela was called, always looked on her daughters as spouses of Christ, the very expression occurs again and again in her writings.

St. Catherine lived at the beginning of the fourth century, in the time of Emperor Maxentius. Of royal blood she was a lady of stunning beauty, considerable wealth and of first rate education. She sought counsel from a wise and saintly ascetic Christian and was converted to the faith. On the night of her baptism she dreamt of Mary and the Christ Child. Christ said: 'She is now worthy and I accept her as my bride.' Christ then placed ring on her hand, saying, 'Today I take thee as my bride, for all eternity.'

Shortly after that the emperor demanded that the people of Alexandria show their loyalty to the state through their devotion to the old Gods. Catherine refused. She was attached to a huge wheel edged with sharp blades but it fell apart before it could do harm. Finally, she was beheaded, but before she died she said: 'Do not grieve, but rather be joyous for I go now to meet my Saviour, my Creator, my bridegroom, Jesus Christ.'

On the right hand side of this painting of the mystical marriage of St. Catherine you can see St. Ursula, standing, and St. Angela, kneeling. We believe that this is probably the best likeness of Angela as it was painted in 1538, while she was still alive.

 

 

Home St. Angela Merici St. Ursula St.Catherine of Alexandria

Ursulines of the Irish Union

11/18/04 aharte@esatclear.ie