Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo
Image of St. Angela Merici

Facts

Feastday: January 27

Death: 1540


When she was 56, Angela Merici said "No" to the Pope. She was aware that Clement VII was offering her a great honor and a great opportunity to serve when he asked her to take charge of a religious order of nursing sisters. But Angela knew that nursing was not what God had called her to do with her life.

She had just returned from a trip to the Holy Land. On the way there she had fallen ill and become blind. Nevertheless, she insisted on continuing her pilgrimage and toured the holy sites with the devotion of her heart rather than her eyes. On the way back she had recovered her sight. But this must have been a reminder to her not to shut her eyes to the needs she saw around her, not to shut her heart to God's call.

All around her hometown she saw poor girls with no education and no hope. In the fifteenth and sixteenth century that Angela lived in, education for women was for the rich or for nuns. Angela herself had learned everything on her own. Her parents had died when she was ten and she had gone to live with an uncle. She was deeply disturbed when her sister died without receiving the sacraments. A vision reassured her that her sister was safe in God's care -- and also prompted her to dedicate her life to God.

When her uncle died, she returned to her hometown and began to notice how little education the girls had. But who would teach them? Times were much different then. Women weren't allowed to be teachers and unmarried women were not supposed to go out by themselves -- even to serve others. Nuns were the best educated women but they weren't allowed to leave their cloisters. There were no teaching orders of sisters like we have today.

But in the meantime, these girls grew up without education in religion or anything at all.

These girls weren't being helped by the old ways, so Angela invented a new way. She brought together a group of unmarried women, fellow Franciscan tertiaries and other friends, who went out into the streets to gather up the girls they saw and teach them. These women had little money and no power, but were bound together by their dedication to education and commitment to Christ. Living in their own homes, they met for prayer and classes where Angela reminded them, " Reflect that in reality you have a greater need to serve [the poor] than they have of your service." They were so successful in their service that Angela was asked to bring her innovative approach to education to other cities, and impressed many people, including the pope.

Though she turned him down, perhaps the pope's request gave her the inspiration or the push to make her little group more formal. Although it was never a religious order in her lifetime, Angela's Company of Saint Ursula, or the Ursulines, was the first group of women religious to work outside the cloister and the first teaching order of women.

It took many years of frustration before Angela's radical ideas of education for all and unmarried women in service were accepted. They are commonplace to us now because people like Angela wanted to help others no matter what the cost. Angela reminds us of her approach to change: "Beware of trying to accomplish anything by force, for God has given every single person free will and desires to constrain none; he merely shows them the way, invites them and counsels them."

Saint Angela Merici 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." She died in 1540, at about seventy years old.

In Her Footsteps:

Take a look around you. Instead of just driving or walking without paying attention today, open your eyes to the needs you see along the way. What people do you notice who need help but who are not being helped? What are their true needs? Make a commitment to help them in some way.

Prayer:

Saint Angela, you were not afraid of change. You did not let stereotypes keep you from serving. Help us to overcome our fear of change in order to follow God's call and allow others to follow theirs. Amen

Copyright (c) 1996-2000 by Terry Matz. All Rights Reserved.



More about St. Angela Merici from Wikipedia

St. Angela Merici Video from YouTube

St. Angela Merici Comments




More Saints





Browse Saints by Category


Popular Saints

Rank

Saint

99.

Image of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin (Feast day November 13) St. Frances was born in Lombardi, Italy in 1850, one of thirteen children. At eighteen, she desired to become a Nun, but poor ... continue reading

100.

Image of St. Julia

St. Julia

Yes, there is a St. Julia and here is her story: St. Julia was born of noble parents in South Africa. When she was still quite young, her city was conquered by barbarians. Julia was ... continue reading

101.

Image of St. Margaret of Scotland

St. Margaret of Scotland

Margaret was an English princess. She and her mother sailed to Scotland to escape from the king who had conquered their land. King Malcolm of Scotland welcomed them and fell in love with ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Thomas

St. Thomas

St. Thomas was a Jew, called to be one of the twelve Apostles. He was a dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ. When Jesus said He was returning to Judea to visit His sick friend Lazarus, Thomas ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Required


Female Saints

Image of St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila

Less than twenty years before Teresa was born in 1515, Columbus opened up the Western Hemisphere to European colonization. Two years after she was born, Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Out of all of this change came Teresa pointing the way from outer turmoil ... continue reading

More Female Saints



Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts

Angels

Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief ... continue reading


Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the ... continue reading



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Rita

St. Rita

St. Rita was born at Spoleto, Italy in 1381. At an early age, she begged her parents to allow her to enter a convent. Instead they arranged a marriage for her. Rita became a good wife and mother, but ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Peregrine Laziosi

St. Peregrine Laziosi

Peregrine Laziosi was born of a wealthy family at Forli, Italy, in 1260. As a youth he was active in politics as a member of the anti-papal party. During one uprising, which the Pope sent St. Philip ... continue reading



Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the heroic 'Apostle of California.' in September 2015.

A Patron Saint for California

By Justin Soutar

During his visit to the United States this coming September, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the heroic 'Apostle of California.' Once that happens, the Golden State will have its own patron saint and the Church will have another great missionary role ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 117:1, 2
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, all nations, extol him, ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:24-29
24 Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 3rd, 2015 Image

St. Thomas
July 3: St. Thomas was a Jew, called to be one of the twelve Apostles. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter