According to legend, Ursula, a 4th Century Christian princess of Britain, was to be given in marriage to a pagan prince. Ursula’s father was not in favor of handing his daughter over to a pagan and he also knew she would not agree. By the grace of God, Ursula came up with a proposal to offer the prince and his father, with conditions.
Ursula asked to be granted three years to dedicate her life to God. She asked that the young prince become a Christian and she asked that both kings provide ships with chosen girls to accompany her to Rome to see the Pope. Surprisingly the prince accepted her conditions, was baptized immediately, and commanded that they be given the ships for the journey.
The women who accompanied Ursula were also converted to Christianity and eventually all set sail for Rome. The legend continued with the meeting of the Pope and the danger that followed on the return trip. Somewhere near Cologne an army of Huns assembled and attacked the ships for fear that the Christian religion would become stronger. All the women were killed for their faith and virginity.
Angela Merici knew of Ursula through stories of the saints told to her as a child by her father. Ursula exhibited values that were attractive to Angela, and modeled what she was looking for in the foundation of her Company. Thus she named the Company after St. Ursula.
St. Ursula was unafraid and willing to meet the challenges that faced her with undying love, strength, and confidence. The bold woman set sail in unknown waters with winds and waves beating up against the side of the ship as she ventured to Rome. She holds out courage to those who follow in Angela’s footsteps. St. Ursula who held close, many virgins and maidens who accompanied her, shelters us with her cloak. St. Ursula, who shared her faith and trust in the Lord, reminds us, as Angela does, to find refuge in Jesus alone.