Sunday, October 21st is the Feast of St. Ursula. Ursuline Sisters around the world are preparing to celebrate and I’d like to invite you to join us! If you are an Ursuline student or alum, you may remember praying this brief prayer each day: St. Angela, watch over the days of our youth. St. Ursula, protect our future. Or you may have memories of your Junior ring day ceremony on or near the Feast of St. Ursula.
First of all, who is St. Ursula? It would take more than a short blog post to tell her story. The short version is that Ursula was the daughter of a 5th century Christian king. At a young age she was drawn to dedicate her life to God and to remain a virgin. Later, a king requested her hand in marriage, promising grave physical and political consequences should she refuse. Ursula came up with an alternate plan. Click here to find out what happened and understand what’s behind this beautiful icon written by Dublin-based iconographer Fearghal O’Farrel , commissioned in the year 2000 by the Sisters of the Irish Ursuline Union.
Because Ursula’s story is so ancient, she has been memorialized in many different ways. Over the days between now and the 21st, treat yourself to a few of the many available resources. Did you know that Benedictine abbess and Christian mystic St. Hildegard of Bingen (+1179), recently declared a Doctor of the Church, composed music for the feast of St. Ursula? Relax and listen to this chant entitled O rubor sanguinis (O ruby blood), and be sure to scroll down to the English translation. If you enjoy fine art, spend some time with Vittore Carpaccio’s famous painting (1495) The Dream of St. Ursula.
By now you might be wondering—”If St. Angela Merici is the foundress of the Ursulines, where does St. Ursula fit in?” Good question! While St. Angela is our foundress, she chose St. Ursula as patroness and gave her group of women the name Company of St. Ursula. Click here for a brief explanation.
Please join us on the 21st in a prayer of thanksgiving for the presence and ministry of Ursuline life in the Church. And may the spirit of St. Ursula accompany all of us in our journeys through life.