The foundress of the Ursuline Nuns, Angela Merici was born on March 21, 1470 or 1474, at Desenzano del Garda, Lombardy, in northern Italy.
Angela's parents died when she was ten, and the death three years later of her older sister was a terrible shock. She consecrated herself to God and was admitted to the third order of St. Francis.
Moving among her neighbors in Desenzano, she discovered an appalling ignorance of religion among the children of the poor. In about 1495, Angela received a vision where she saw herself giving religious instructions to young girls. She gathered together several other tertiaries, and collecting the little girls of the neighborhood, began to give them systematic instruction in the faith in her home. Until then only boys could go to school. In 1516 she moved to Brescia where she opened a similar school.
About 1533 a band of 12 women joined Angela in her endeavor to help the poor and instruct them. They moved into a house near the Church of St. Afra in Brescia, where they formed the nucleus of the Ursuline Order. It was named after St. Ursula, patroness of medieval universities.
In 1535, Angela was unanimously elected Mother Superior of the group, a position she held until her death on January 27, 1540. Pope Clement beatified her in 1768, and she was canonized by Pope Pius VII in 1807. Her feast day is January 27.