ST. JULIA URSULA LEDOCHOWSKA Patron Saint of Young Girls

Julia Ursula Ledóchowska was born in 1865. In 1886 she became an Ursuline nun and took the name of ‘Maria Ursula of Jesus’. Her love for the Lord, educational talent and sensibility towards the needs of youngsters in the changing social, political and moral conditions of those times put her at the centre of attention. When women earned the right to study in universities, she succeeded in organising the first boarding-house in Poland for female students, where they not only found a safe place to live and study, but also received a solid religious preparation. In 1904 she became the Mother Superior of the convent in Cracow. The blessing of Pope Pio X gave her the strength to move into the heart of Russia, which was hostile towards the Catholic Church. She lived secretly in Petersburg, and even though under constant surveillance by the secret police, she brought forward an intense educational and religious project, which was also directed towards the encouragement of relationships between Polish and Russians.
In 1908 an autonomous house of Ursulines was established in Petersburg, with Ursula Ledóchowska as Mother. When war broke out in 1914, Mother Ursula headed for Stockholm, where the hole community was finally moved. The nuns founded a language institute for girls there. In 1917, after the move to Denmark, the sisters founded a house for orphaned children of Polish emigrants. The house where St. Ursula lived with her sisters became a point of reference for people of different political and religious orientation. Once asked to speak of her political views, she promptly answered ‘My policy is love’. She was a great champion of ecumenism. In 1920 M. Ursula, her sisters and a vast number of orphan children of immigrants returned to Poland. The autonomous convent was transformed into the new congregation. The spirituality of the congregation is concentrated on the contemplation of the love of Christ and participation in His mission by means of educational projects and service to others, particularly to the suffering, the lonely and the abandoned, who were searching for the meaning of life. The congregation developed quickly. The communities of the Ursuline nuns were established in Poland and on the eastern frontiers of the country which were poor, multinational and multi-confessional. In 1928 the Generalate was established in Rome along with a boarding-house for girls who were economically less well-off. In 1930 the nuns accompanied girls in search of work and established themselves in France. Wherever possible M. Ursula founded educational and instructional work centres. She sent the nuns to catechise and to work in the poor parts of towns. She wrote books and articles for children and youngsters. When her laborious and not easy life came to an end in Rome on May 29, 1939, people said of her: “She died a saint”. His Holiness Pope John Paul II canonized M. Ursula in 2003.

Feast Day: May 29



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