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  • Writer's pictureUrsulines of Brown County

The Legend of St. Ursula

According to legend, around the year, 300, Ursula, a Christian and the daughter of a king was betrothed to a pagan.

Before she would agree to the marriage, she set 3 conditions:

1) that he and his family be baptized,

2) that she be given 3 years to sail the sea to visit Rome and the Holy Lands,

3) that she be allowed to take 10 companions each with 1000 virgins, on the pilgrimage.

The three conditions were agreed upon and Ursula and her company set sail. As they were on their way home, they arrived in Cologne, and met the Huns who brutally murdered Ursula and her companions. In her right hand she holds an arrow (symbol of her martyrdom) and in the folds of her cloak are the images of young women.

Ursula became a popular saint throughout Europe; and in Italy, during St. Angela’s time, was revered as the protector of young women. As Saint Angela was founding her company, she chose St. Ursula as the patroness and name sake of the group, the Company of St. Ursula. St. Angela had a great devotion to St. Ursula. Mostly, Ursula was venerated as a leader of women who believed that Christian education would empower women so they would be influential in establishing values for their families.

Angela wanted her Company to be named for and protected under the mantle of Ursula, virgin and martyr. Angela and Ursula were both self-possessed women who had great influence and drew companions around them, increasing their influence in an effort to change their world to be more filled with God.

The statue that sits on the Front Lawn of the Brown County campus depicts Ursula with the young women in the shelter of her cloak.

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