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Bernardo Cavallino, Saint Ursula, ca. 1650, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly, 1929.6.152

 

Feast of Saint Ursula and the Virgins of Cologne

(4th c.)

St. Ursula was a pious Christian princess from Britain, perhaps Wales. According to the 13th century Golden Legend she set sail and embarked on a pilgrimage to Rome with a large court of handmaids prior to settling in what is today western France, where she was to be joined in marriage to a local governor. Along her pilgrimage route she attracted many followers who were influenced by her holy example. On the return journey St. Ursula and her traveling maidens fell into the hands of the Huns, violent nomads from the East, who had invaded large swaths of Europe. St. Ursula and her company of virgins and other followers, which numbered 11,000, were tortured in an effort to have them renounce their faith. Steadfastly refusing, they were massacred in Cologne, Germany and buried together in a mass grave over which was built the Basilica of St. Ursula. Due to the varying accounts of her martyrdom and the difficulty of separating fact from legend, her feast day was suppressed in modern times. St. Ursula is the patroness of the Ursulines, a female religious order founded in 1535 by St. Angela Merici for the education of young girls. St. Ursula is also the patron of students, teachers, Catholic education, and of a holy death.

Her feast day is October 21st.

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The Church has painstakingly collected the records of those who persevered to the end in witnessing to their faith. These are the acts of the Martyrs. They form the archives of truth written in the letters of blood….”

Catechism of the Catholic Church (2474)

 

St. Ursula and Virgins (artist unknown)

 

The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

Tertullian
The Martyrdom of St. Ursula by Lorenzo Pasinelli

Saint Ursula and Companions, holy virgin martyrs, pray for us.

Be not afraid!  And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.  Holy Family pray for us.  Amen.

The Holy Family, Murillo
The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (c. 1675-82) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

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