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The Ursulines are a Roman Catholic religious order founded at Brescia, Italy, by Saint Angela de Merici in November 1535, primarily for the education of girls and the care of the sick and needy. Their patron saint is Saint Ursula.


St Angela de Merici spent 17 years leading a group of women known as the "Company of St. Ursula," who regularly met for conferences and devotional practices but did not live together. They were recognized in 1544 by Pope Paul III. In 1572, Pope Gregory XIII, at the instance of Saint Charles Borromeo, the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, declared the Ursulines a religious order with enclosure under the rule of Augustine of Hippo.

Ursulines were the main accusers in the Loudun and Aix-en-Provence demonic possession cases.

In the following century, the Ursulines were powerfully encouraged and supported by Saint Francis de Sales. In most cases, especially in France, the sisters adopted enclosure and took solemn vows. They were called the "religious Ursulines" as distinct from the "congregated Ursulines," who preferred to follow the original plan.

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