January 27, 2016

Optional Memorial of Saint Angela Merici, Foundress and Virgin

St. Angela Merici
Saint Angela Merici was born in northern Italy in the year 1474. At age 15, she and her older sister were left orphans. A short time later, her sister would die without receiving Last Rites. Angela was most alarmed by this and prayed fervently for her sister’s soul. By God’s grace, Angela received a vision confirming her sister was indeed in heaven among the saints. Angela dedicated her life to Christ; spending countless hours educating and tending to the needs of poor women and girls.

In Crete, on a trip to the Holy Land, she was struck blind [praying in front of a crucifix]. Friends urged her to return home but Angela continued the pilgrimage with as much devotion as if she could see. Upon her return, Angela’s sight was restored while praying in front of a crucifix at the same place where she was struck blind. At age 57, she founded the first teaching order of religious sisters in the Church as well as the first “secular institute” of religious women.

The Life of St. Angela Merici

The saint was born in 1474 in the diocese of Verona. Early in life she dedicated herself to Christ as His bride. After the death of her parents, she desired to live solely for God in quiet and solitude, but her uncle insisted that she manage his household. She renounced her patrimony to observe more perfectly her discipleship in the imitation of Christ.

As a young woman Angela became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis [now known as the Secular Franciscan Order] and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.

She was invited to live with a family in Brescia [where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community]. Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals.

During a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1524, she lost her eyesight temporarily. Pope Clement VII, whom she visited in Rome, desired her to remain in the Holy City. Later she founded a society for girls, under the protection of St. Ursula; this was the beginning of the Ursuline Order. St. Angela was almost seventy when she died; her body remained incorrupt for thirty days. Remarkable phenomena occurred at her burial in the Church of St. Afra.

Adapted excerpts from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch and "St. Angela Merici", American Catholic.

Patron: Bodily ills; disabled people; handicapped people; illness; loss of parents; physically challenged people; sick people; sickness.

Symbols: Cloak; ladder.

Prayer in Honor of St. Angela Merici

May the Virgin Saint Angela never fail to commend us
to Your compassion, O Lord, we pray,
that, following the lessons of her charity and prudence,
we may hold fast to Your teaching
and express it in what we do.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Litany of St. Angela Merici

Holy Mary, Mother of God, and faithful guardian of
our mother Saint Angela, Pray for us.
Saint Angela Merici, Pray for us.
St. Angela, favored with the choicest gifts of God from
thine infancy, Pray for us.
St. Angela, who didst give thyself to the practice of all
the virtues from thy tenderest years, Pray for us.

St. Angela, who didst always preserve a spotless purity,
Pray for us.
St. Angela, who by thy love for holy purity, didst merit
to receive thy name, Pray for us.
St. Angela, who from childhood found thy delight in
solitude, Pray for us.
St. Angela, who led an angelic life in the house of thy
parents, Pray for us.

O God, Who by means of our blessed mother Saint
Angela didst cause a new Order of holy virgins to
flourish in Thy Church, grant, through her
intercession, that we may imitate her angelic virtues,
and forsaking all earthly things, may be found worthy
of eternal bliss, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

To pray the litany in full go here

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