Ursulines of the Roman Union
Roman Union of the order of Saint Ursula
History of the Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union of the Order of St. Ursula
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Provincialate of Italy:
Via Nomentana 34 I 00161 Roma
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Via Nomentana 236 00162 Roma
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Canale Youtube: L’angolo di Sr. Paola
Canale Youtube: Sr. Daria Osu
The Roman Union of the Order of Saint Ursula is an International Pontifical Religious Institute of perpetual vows that has inherited and made its own the spirituality and charism of Saint Angela Merici, whom it recognizes as its First Mother and Founder.
Every institute that comes into being becomes part of our history in the world according to the plan of God, the God who guides history, at the most appropriate and favorable moment for its development. This is what happened in the case of the Roman Union of the Order of Saint Ursula.
The Roman Union has as its legacy a long history that has its roots in the company founded by St. Angela at Brescia in 1535. In the centuries following the original foundation of consecrated laywomen, historical events brought about the development of religious congregations as well, giving rise to a varied and eventful history. There were congregations with no cloister and simple vows and cloistered congregations with solemn vows. Enclosure was favored by the Council of Trent. The transition to the monastic state led some congregations, by necessity, to adopt on the part of some the rule of the Jesuits, and on the part of others the Rule of St. Augustine. Ursulines of the cloistered form spread throughout central Europe and Italy, where they developed in parallel with groups following the Primitive Rule of Saint Angela. With Mother Marie of the Incarnation Guyart, an Ursuline of the Monastery of Tours, the Ursulines became missionaries; with the French Revolution, martyrs; with persecutions, emigrées. However, despite all these transformations, the sisters have continued to maintain intact the spirituality and the charism of their Mother Angela.
By the end of the 17th century, monasteries of Ursulines were scattered all over the world. Some were autonomous, while others belonged to approved, but different, Congregations such as the Congregations of Paris, Bordeaux, Lyons or Toulouse. The decree of foundation, in a particular Congregation, was the same for all the monasteries that were a part of it, so the Constitutions were almost identical and many customs were held in common. Each monastery observed enclosure, was financially independent, had its own novitiate, had its own superior elected by its members, and was under the authority of the Bishop of the Diocese.
The only common and unchangeable bond over time remained the spirituality of St. Angela and her strong call for unity. The occasion to strengthen relations among congregations began with the initiative undertaken in the second half of the eighteenth century to work for the canonization of Angela Merici. The postulator and tireless moving spirit of this enterprise was Mother Luisa di San Giuseppe Schiantarelli (1718-1802), of the Ursuline Monastery of Rome, who mobilized the entire Ursuline world, creating a spiritual bond among them and making them aware of their number and their widespread evangelizing power in the world.
So it was at the end of the 19th century that the various initiatives undertaken by the chaplain of the Ursulines of Blois, Can. Pierre Richaudeau (1806-1880), and communicated to the monasteries through mutual correspondence, helped to spread and strengthen the spiritual union which made for an eventual concrete Union.
After the fall of the Papal States in 1870, religious congregations in Italy found themselves threatened with extinction by the laws enacted by the Italian government. The Superior of the Ursulines of Blois (France), a flourishing monastery, answered the cry for help requested by the Sisters in Rome
and then from those of Calvi in Umbria (Italy). From this common need and response, the first small Union, Rome-Blois-Calvi, was born. It was canonically erected, but anomalous, with three different communities subject to three different bishops. The first Superior General was Mother Marie de Saint- Julien Aubry, resident at Blois.
Pope Leo XIII then expressed a desire to see the Ursulines of the world unite under a single Superior General resident in Rome, so a consultation was sent to all the Ursulines and their respective bishops. The questions, correspondence, support, and even reticence, led to the convening of a General Assembly at Rome on November 15, 1900. The 71 Superiors or delegates present discussed and voted on the plan of the General Government. Sixty-two of the monasteries represented joined the Union. The verbal approval of the Holy Father on November 28, 1900 was followed by the opening of the First General Chapter of the Roman Union and the election of Mother Marie de Saint-Julien Aubry as Prioress General along with four General Councilors: a German, an American, a Frenchwoman and an Italian. They then began the work of organization.
In 1903, after much difficult work, the first Constitutions of the Roman Union were sketched out, leaving to the Monasteries their autonomy and stability of their subjects. In 1905 the provinces were formed. Over the years the number of affiliates to the Roman Union continued to grow. In 1928 new constitutions made it necessary that the Monasteries abandon some of their autonomy in order to become active members of their Provinces and of the Union. A missionary zeal enlivened the Institute: new houses were founded in China, Thailand and Peru. In addition, some religious missionaries departed their home countries to support existing works. Under the totalitarian regimes of Nazism and communism, the Institute experienced painful trials: expulsions of religious, sentencing to forced labor in concentration camps, removal and forfeiture of homes and schools, martyrdom.
After Vatican II, the Special General Chapter of 1969 the Institute entered the renewal process mandated by the Church. In 1983, following a period of experimentation, the General Chapter prepared the Constitutions and Statutes of the Roman Union of the Order of St. Ursula, in harmony with the conciliar documents and changing times. Their approval, by decree of the Sacred Congregation for Religious, is dated May 24, 1984.
The driving force of our religious life can be summarized as follows: Contemplation and ministry interpenetrate and enliven each other in a dynamic fidelity to the
charism of St. Angela. Community life is essential to our vocation as Ursulines. We live in sisterly community sharing prayer, ministry and daily life with respect and freedom that strengthen our communion in faith. Through the public profession of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, we are committed to a radical evangelical consecration, rooted in our Baptism, and manifest in our lives the spousal union of Christ and the Church.
The mission that the Church entrusts to us, and that we exercise in her name, is a mission of education in various forms depending on the needs of evangelization.
The Roman Union, by its nature, is international and spread throughout the world. It can thus, in its very diversity, manifest the unity and catholicity of the Church and, in a divided world, witness to the love of Christ. In following Saint Angela and in docility to the Holy Spirit, which unifies our lives and makes all things new, we try, with prudence and energy, to implement the necessary adaptation to the signs and needs of the times. The service of authority takes place at three levels: General (with elected members representing our internationality) - Provincial – Local. Initial formation takes place in our novitiates. Extended spiritual renewal and experience of our internationality are provided by the Tertianship. Since 2000, an international exchange program has provided for lifelong learning and for experiencing ministry in diverse cultural settings. At each level, then, we can live in solidarity and provide mutual assistance.
Some independent Ursuline congregations are associated with the Roman Union; they are: In Italy: Ursulines of the Institute of St. Mary of the Angels of Brescia; in England: the Ursulines of Brentwood; in Ireland: the Irish Ursuline Union; in France, the Ursulines of Clermont-Ferrand, the Sisters of St. Charles de Puy, the Congregation of the Ursulines of Malet; in Canada: the Canadian Union; the Ursulines of Bruno; in India: the Sisters of Satyaseva; in the Republic of South Africa: the Congregation of the Companions of St. Angela.
Our mission of evangelization is carried out by means of various apostolic activities: • Teaching in schools at every level: from Cradle to University; managements of university pensions and
residential Colleges; • Welcoming groups and involvement in youth movements and adult activities with a view to formation,
evangelization and Promotion of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation; • Sharing life with the poor and marginalized; • Pastoral activities: Catechesis at every level, spiritual direction, retreats, work in Parishes; Ecumenical and
Interreligious Dialogue; Health care and social work for enhancement of life and human dignity; • Ministry of Prayer; • Sharing of the Charism of Saint Angela Merici with lay groups.
Three characteristics seem to emerge from our apostolic mission, which is diversified because it is inculturated, shared with laity, and embedded in the local Church.
Worldwide Presence of the Ursulines of the Roman Union
From everywhere in the world, we keep our eyes on Rome where the heart of our Roman Union is ever beating, giving life to every Sister who walks in the footsteps of Saint Angela, enlightened by the Magisterium of the Pope and of the Bishops.
13 maggio 2012