Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 22, 2007
Ursuline chapel began as a school
Four Ursulines taught the young and nursed the sick of Trois Rivieres
St. Angela Merici – January 27
By TED FITZGERALD
After two centuries of educating the city's children, the monastery is today an integral part of the area's history.
She is also portrayed with the order's namesake, Ursula, in one of the pendentives. Italian-born, orphan Angela joined the Franciscan Tertiaries at an early age and soon demonstrated a natural flair for teaching catechism to neighbourhood children.
In 1535 she and some young companions formed the first order of women specifically dedicated to teaching, the Company of St. Ursula. They wore no religious habit and were not cloistered for the first 25 years of their mission.
Angela lived only another four years to enjoy the early success of her vocation. The Ursulines did not formally become a congregation until 1563 because of slow Church approval for their unusual lay organization.
Angela was canonized in 1807.
The congregation expanded quickly with many offshoots of Angela's group who maintained their lay lifestyle. Some others, such as that at Tours, France, where Blessed Marie de l'Incarnation lived, were enclosed.
After experiencing a vision, Marie and two companions sailed from Dieppe in 1639 and founded a monastery and school in Quebec City. Considered to be a saint in her own lifetime, today her tomb and the associated Ursuline Museum there are a popular pilgrims' destination.
Marie, the mother of the Canadian Church, was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II.
It was another 58 years before four Ursulines moved on to Trois Rivieres, opening a school and a facility to care for the town's sick. After two centuries of educating the city's children, the monastery is today an integral part of the area's history.
Over the years, the order and its branches flourished so that now a variety of Ursuline establishments can be found across Canada.
Following Mass, visitors will not escape the senior sister, who had graciously seated them when they arrived, without accepting pamphlets promoting the Ursulines' well-advertised museum housed in the historic convent. Founded in 1982, it's a treasure-trove of ceramics, books, prints and furnishings dating from the monastery's early years.
Once outside, visitors will want to loiter in the pleasant jardin, then perhaps visit a restaurant or the Pulp and Paper Exhibit on the Trois Rivieres popular waterfront promenade.
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