It all started in Brescia
Born in Desenzano del Garda, Lombardy, Italy, in 1474 and orphaned in 1484, St. Angela de Merici (March 21, 1474 – January 27, 1540) developed a passion for God and joined th e Third Order of St Francis, as was the custom of the Church in those days.
Believing females needed a better Christian education, she dedicated herself to teaching of gospel values. She had had two visions during her life that she would found an order of virgins to carry out her education mission.
At age 61, on November 25, 1535, she selected 12 virgins and formed the Company of St. Ursula, who met regularly for conferences and devotional practices, but did not live together.
On March 18, 1537, she was elected Mother General, then, died on January 27, 1540. The Ursulines were recognized by Pope Paul III in 1544, then, declared a Religious Order by Pope Gregory XIII in 1572.
Ursulines established a presence in many countries around the world, some as “religious” Ursulines in convents; others as “congregated” Ursulines who established schools. On November 28, 1900, they formed the Roman Union of Ursulines with missions in 26 countries under the Insieme symbol of 100 stars united with headquarters in Rome.
Borne by ship to Thai soil
It was on 25 November 1924 that Ursuline sisters first landed in Siam, namely:
• Mother Therese Mary Mertens
• Mother Xaviera Pirc
• Mother Raphael Vurnik
• Mother Agn?s Delattre
They came to Siam to spread the good news of Jesus’ love for the Siamese people at the invitation of Bishop Perros in charge of the vicariate of the Siam at the time.
Initially, the four missionary sisters stayed at St. Louis Hospital until the following year, because they had arrived sooner than Bishop Perros had expected. The sisters taught first at Kularb Watana School at Calvary Church, Talad Noi, taking over duties from the St. Paul de Chartres Sisters to look after orphans and the church.
The sisters established Mater Dei School on Ploenchit Road in 1927 when the number of students exceeded the space available at Kularb Watana School. The number of students continued to grow apace. In 1932, the Regina Coeli School was established in Chiang Mai, the first in Thailand’s North.
In 1955, the sisters opened Vasudevi School on Chan Street in Bangkok to serve girls in the area, then, considered very far from the heart of the city.
The sisters initiated social welfare activities in Ratchaburi Province south of Bangkok: community development in Chombeung and Saunta districts and looking after the church and local community in Thungkaoluang district.
In the North, sisters established Bethany House as a residence for training hilltribe girls from the area around Regina Coeli School. In Bangkok, they established Ban Thep House preschool in the Suan Oy community Soi 6 and Thevee Center at Vasuthevee School.
In addition, the sisters set up centers for the public benefit, such as National Catechitical Center and a national sisters Center.
Then, in 1993, the sisters were given responsibility for looking after a church and its community at Chiang Kham and established the Angela House as a training center in Chiang Kham, Payao Province, for local and village girls to instill in them a sense of womanhood.
During the same year, the sisters were given responsibility for looking after the Sirimatthevee church and the local school in Phan, Chiang Rai Province.
In 2002, the sisters opened a co-ed preschool and a girls’ center in Payao Province to help housewives and girls appreciate their value and capabilities in the modern world.