St. Angela's Parish church in Mattapan Square

Who Is Saint Angela de Merici

This month of January – on January 27, we’ll celebrate the feast day of our Patron Saint: St. Angela Merici.

Angela Merici or Angela de Merici was an Italian religious leader and is a saint.  She died on 27 January 1540 and was canonized on 24 May 1807 in Rome by Pope Pius VII.  In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of her Feast Day, ranked as a Memorial of St. Angela Merici, to her of death day on 27 January.

Angela Merici founded the Order of Ursulines in 1535 in Brescia, Italy for the education of girls and the care of the sick and needy. The Patron Saint of the Ursulines is Saint Ursula. The Ursulines Sisters owned and operated Ursuline Academy, an independent High School day college preparatory for young women in grades 7 to 12. Ursuline Academy is located in on a 28-acre campus in Dedham, Massachusetts.

 Saint Angela de Merici is the patron Saint of St. Angela’s Parish in Mattapan of Southern Boston, Massachusetts – a parish of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston; and also the patron saint of the sick, handicapped people and orphans.

Saint, Angela Merici was born in 21 March 1474 at Desenzano del Garda, a small town on the southwestern shore of Lake Garda in Lombardy.

When Angela was about ten years old, she was left orphan together with her older sister, whom she dearly loved. They lived together with their uncle.

After the sudden death of her older sister, she was very distressed, joined the Third Order of St Francis, and increased her prayers to God so her sister’s soul could rest in peace.

People admired Saint Angela because of her hair; she promised herself to God and did not want the attention and distractions she was getting because of her hair. So, she dyed her hair in soot and water.

A few years after the death of her older sister Giana Maria, her uncle also died when Angela was twenty years old.  She then returned to her home town in Desenzano.

Saint Angela de Merici. Picture courtesy Catholic Online
Saint Angela de Merici. Picture courtesy of  Catholic Online

Angela believed that better Christian Education was needed for young girls. Back to her home town, she dedicated her time teaching girls in her home, which she had converted into a school.

She died on 27 January 1540. Her body was clothed in the habit of a Franciscan tertiary and interred in the Church of St Afra, Brescia – where she often prayed in her life.

She was beatified on 30 April 1768 in Rome by Pope Clement XIII.

She was canonized on 24 May 1807 in Rome by Pope Pius VII. The Merician Centre including the now subterranean Church of St Afra in Brescia, Lombardy in Italy is the major shrine dedicated to Saint Angela of Merici.

One hundred years after her canonization, the newly established St. Angela’s Parish in Mattapan was dedicated to Saint Angela de Merici on 28 December 1907 by Cardinal O’Connell who appointed Father Francis Ryan as the first pastor to the new Mattapan Parish.

St. Angela's Parish pastor, Father Bill Joy
St. Angela’s Parish pastor, Father Bill Joy

About a century later after that, St. Angela’s Parish is now today under the pastorate of Reverend Father William P. Joy since he was appointed pastor on 1 March 1995 by His Eminence, Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Archbishop of Boston.

One of the major events at Angela’s Parish during Father Joy’s leadership was a fire inside St. Angela’s church in the early morning of October 25 of the year he was appointed pastor, 1995.  The church was restored and rededicated two years later – in 1997.  Another major event has been the Centennial year of St. Angela’s Parish in 2008.  Embracing Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI strong call for the Catholic Church to use the Internet and social media for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus-Christ, Father Joy leads St. Angela’s – and St. Matthew’s Dorchester into the new era of evangelization with the parish online presence that is ranked at the top six best parish websites of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Last year, in November 2013, Father Bill Joy received the Archdiocese of Boston’s 2013 Robert Ruffin Award.

Father Joy was the main celebrant at the Memorial of St. Angela’s on her Feast day last year on Sunday 27 January 2013 at St. Angela’s church with Father Charles, Father Miracle, Father Matondo and Father Jean-Louis.

It is so very often at numerous liturgical, social, cultural events and at Parish Council meetings we hear Father Joy asking Saint Angela to pray for us.

LET’S PRAY: Saint Angela pray for our dear pastor Father Bill Joy and for our parish who is dedicated after your sainthood.  Also, pray for St. Matthew’s.

Part of this document was retrieved from the General Roman Calendar – Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969) [link] and from our parish archives. Gaspard Lafalaise leads the retrieval of documents and sources. Other parish volunteers contribute to research and compilation. Below are additional links, sources, and further readings about Saint Angela de Merici and St. Angela’s Parish.

[RELATED: Learn more about Saint Angela de Merici at Catholic Online]
[RELATED: The Story of St. Angela’s Parish, Mattapan]
[RELATED: Learn more about St Angela’s Mattapan Parish today]
[RELATED: Learn more about our pastor, Rev. Father Bill Joy]

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Gaspard Lafalaise - Parish Technology and New Media Consultant