Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Prior to its ecclesiastical recognition, St. Angela spent 17 years leading a group of women who regularly met for conferences and devotional practices, but did not live together, known as The Company of St. Ursula. It was approved in 1544 by Pope Paul III, and in 1572 Pope Gregory XIII, at the instance of St. Charles Borromeo, Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, declared it a religious order with enclosure under the rule of St. Augustine.
In the following century it was powerfully encouraged and supported by St. Francis of Sales. In most cases, especially in France, the sisters adopted enclosure and took solemn vows; they were called the religious Ursulines as distinct from the congregated Ursulines, who preferred to follow the original plan. There were Ursulines in Canada in 1639, led by who taught the catechism to Indian children, and subsequently helped to preserve a religious spirit among the French population and to humanize the Indians and half-breeds.
Towards the beginning of the 18th century, the period of its greatest prosperity, the order embraced some 20 congregations, with 350 convents and from 15,000 to 20,000 nuns. The members wear a black dress bound by a leathern girdle, a black sleeveless cloak, and a close-fitting head-dress with a white veil and a longer black veil. Their patron is the St. Ursula mentioned above. The founder was beatified by Clement VIII in 1768 and canonized as St Agnes of Brescia by Pius VII in 1807. The Irish Ursulines were established at Cork in 1771 by Miss Nano Nagle . While some convents in Europe, Canada, and Cuba still observe strict enclosure, most convents have adapted less restrictive forms.
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