St. Angela Merici, Patron of the Physically Challenged
Angela’s parents died when she was only ten years old. Together, with her older sister, she moved to the nearby town of Salo, to live with her uncle. When her sister died quite suddenly without receiving the last sacraments, Angela was deeply upset. At the age of 15, she became a Franciscan tertiary and greatly increased her prayers and sacrifices for the repose of her sister’s soul. She asked God to reveal to her the condition of her deceased sister and He answered her prayer by showing her through a vision that her sister was in Heaven.
When her uncle died, she returned to live at Desenzano to make a life for herself. She was convinced of the need for women to be educated in their faith and converted her home into a school where she daily gathered all the girls of Desenzano and taught them the basics of Christianity. It was at this time that she received a vision, which led her to found a religious order who were to devote their lives to the spiritual education of young women. The school she established at Desenzano was so successful that she was invited to the nearby city of Brescia, to establish a school there, which she accepted.
During a pilgrimage to Holy Land, while visiting Crete, Angela was struck blind. This did not interrupt her trip, however, but she continued on the journey, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she still had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was miraculously restored at the same place where it had been lost.
In 1525, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her great holiness and her success as a religious teacher of young girls, invited her to remain in Rome; however, Angela returned to Brescia to live a quiet life, away from the limelight.
In 1535, Angela selected twelve women and laid the foundation of the order of the Ursulines in a small house near the Church of St. Afra in Brescia. She died only five years later. St. Angela’s body is incorrupt. She was beatified in 1768 by Pope Clement XIII and canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.
Patronage: She is the patron saint of physically challenged people, sick people, and of those who have lost their parents.
Quotes From St. Angela Merci:
“Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.”
“We must give alms. Charity wins souls and draws them to virtue.”
“Mothers of children, even if they have a thousand, carry each and every one fixed in their hearts, and because of the strength of their love they do not forget any of them. In fact, it seems that the more children they have the more their love and care for each one is increased.”