Angela Merici Studies
Contemporary study of Angela Merici has been oriented by the critical research stimulated by the call of Vatican II to ressourcement, for religous congregations to revisit the charism of their founders. With the recovery of early historical documents, the character of the original Company of Saint Ursula and Angela’s own image emerged more clearly . New canonical guidelines allowed Ursuline communities to reclaim a broader field of ministry and greater flexibility in form. By the last decades of the twentieth century, Ursuline identity was infused with a charism more fundamental than its traditional association with teaching. Today the Merician charism is represented across the canonical spectrum and beyond, including congregations of vowed religious and lay associates, secular institutes and pious unions, and others who have embraced Angela’s dynamic spirituality.
A watershed in the reappropriation of Angela’s charism came with the 1967 publication of Teresa Ledowchowska’s scholarly two volume study, Angela Merici and the Company of St. Ursula: According to the Historical Documents. The following decades of dedicated research were presented in 1989 under the modest title, Angela Merici : Contribution Towards a Biography (Luciana Mariani, Elisa Tarolli, and Marie Seynaeve). The Ursulines of the Roman Union have spear-headed publication of collaborative research; insights from different disciplines have nuanced our understanding of Angela’s life and the cross-currents of her time. Historical research, however, can only gradually temper the myths of hagiography, iconography and canonical orthodoxy. Identification of Angela as the foundress of a religious order or of Catholic education is contradicted by the earliest sources, yet these anachronisms remain pervasive and resistant among otherwise reputable sources.
Some entries in our comprehensive bibliography and catalogue of media include perspectives which pre-date the critical scholarship of the late 20th century. Selected resources are indicated under section headings. We hope to expand the online accessibility of introductory and summary presentations currently available in printed form.