The Ursuline tradition

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Angela believed that through education, women could become agents of change, transforming society for the better.

Our namesake

According to a legend that began in the fourth century AD, Ursula was a woman of great courage who was martyred in Cologne, Germany, where the Church of Saint Ursula now stands.

While the evidence of Saint Ursula’s life has been lost over the hundreds of years that have passed, her followers have left rich historical traces. As early as the ninth and tenth centuries, devotion to Saint Ursula had spread from Cologne to Spain, Italy, Denmark, Poland and other European countries.

Her immense popularity as a patron and helper also finds expression in abundant artistic representations throughout Europe. Ursula is usually pictured wearing a crown and carrying an arrow and a palm branch, symbolic respectively of royalty, martyrdom and victory. She is often wearing a cloak of protection and security, under which she offers her companions protection.

Origin of the Ursuline Order

Angela Merici had been devoted to the story of Saint Ursula since her childhood in Brescia, Italy. Angela was inspired to establish the Ursuline Order in 1535 under the patronage of Saint Ursula, someone young people trusted to protect them.

Angela believed that through education, women could become agents of change, transforming society for the better. She built a “company of young women” devoted to serving God through caring for those in need in their own community contexts not necessarily in a convent setting. Her dedication to empowering women and educating girls was revolutionary at the time.

Centuries of educational tradition

For hundreds of years now, Ursulines around the world have followed Angela’s brave, faithful and compassionate example of service. Over time, the Ursuline Order became synonymous with providing high quality education. In particular, Angela’s ideas are still making a unique contribution to educational philosophy. They stress the significance and uniqueness of the individual and the importance of the teacher-pupil relationship. Her teachings challenge us to work together to proclaim the Gospel.

Today, St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove strives to nurture young women of action, who demonstrate wisdom and independence, courage and resilience and a commitment to the service of others – just like Angela and her patron Saint Ursula.

More information

Learn more about the work of the Australian Ursulines and the international community they are members of, the Ursulines of the Roman Union