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Saint of the Day

St. Ursula Ledochowska

May 29
Born 1865-Austria
Died 1939-Rome, Italy

Born Julia Maria Ledochowska, she was an Austrian-born religious leader. She became a Roman Catholic nun and founded the Congregation of the Ursulines of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus. She is a prominent member of the Ledochowska family.

In 1886 she entered the novitiate of the Ursulines in Kraków and made her perpetual profession on 28 April 1889. In 1904 she was elected as the Mother Superior of the convent and remained in that position until 1907. In Kraków she opened a home for female college students, which at that time proved to be a new phenomenon. She often spent hours in Eucharistic Adoration.

Because Roman Catholic institutions were illegal in the Russian Empire, she was forced to wear civilian clothes. Once the tsarist government oppression to the faith grew, she moved to the Russian-controlled Finland, where she translated songs and a catechism for the Finnish fishermen who were Protestants for the most part. The religious also set up a free clinic for ill people, as well as for the fishermen and their families. But her apostolic zeal soon attracted undue attention, for the Russians began to monitor her moves and decided that enough was enough.

In 1914 she was expelled from the Russian Empire and sought refuge in neutral Sweden, though still kept in touch with the religious who remained in Russia. She was a noted orator who often called for and defended the right for Polish independence; she spoke in various forums and often addressed national leaders and fellow nobles from time to time.

Ledóchowska settled in Stockholm and started a language school and a domestic science school for girls. In Denmark in 1918 she founded an orphanage and a school of home economics in Aalborg. In 1920 she returned to Poland with 40 other nuns who had joined her in her mission. With permission from Rome, she changed her independent convent into the Ursulines of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus which she founded in June 1920. It was in Poland that the apostolic nuncio Achille Ratti - future Pope Pius XI - encouraged and blessed her work.

In May of 1939 she died in Rome in her convent at Via del Casaletto due to a carcinoma. The religious noticed that she had not come to the Vespers and so knocked on her door before finding her dead with a rosary in her hand. Her incorrupt remains were moved to the convent in Pniewy, Poland, on May 29, 1989.

"Holiness does not demand anything great, beyond the ability of the person. It depends on God's Love; every daily act can be transformed into an act of love." -Saint Ursula

St. Ursula, pray for us!

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