Brescia, Italy: Incorrupt Body Saint Angela Merici (founder of the Ursuline Order)
About Saint Angela Merici:
Born in 1474, Angela Merici had visions at the age of 15, telling her that some day she would lead other women to Christ. At just 10-years-old, Angela and her older sister became orphans and went to live with their uncle in Salo. There they led a quiet and devout Catholic Christian life.
After the death of her sister at a young age, Angela was saddened by the fact the that she had not had the opportunity to receive her last Sacraments and, concerned for her sister’s eternal salvation, she prayed for God to reveal the condition of her deceased sister’s soul. She then received a vision that her sister was in Heaven with the company of saints. She became increasingly more devout and joined the Third Order of St. Francis where she also pledged to remain a consecrated virgin, forsaking marriage to one man to be married to the Lord and His Church.
At age 20, her uncle died and she returned to Desenzo. She discovered that there many young girls who had no education and no hope. She was upset that thier parents had not bothered to educate them and felt there was great need for a better way of teaching these young girls. So, she opened her own home to them and began to teach them herself. She devotedly taught them the Catholic Christian faith. By her example and instruction, she taught them to how to pray and participate in the sacramental life of the Church. She evangelized and catechized these young girls, opening them up to the life of grace.
Another vision from the Lord revealed to Angela that she was to found an institution with other consecrated virgins to further devote their lives toward the religious training of young girls in Desenzo. Based on her success here, the neigboring town of Brescia asked her to establish a similar school there.
In 1524, she eagerly took on the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land. During the journey, on the island of Crete, she was suddenly struck blind. She continued the pilgrimage despite this and visited the sacred shrines. On the way back home, her sight was miraculously restored while she was praying before a crucifix in the same place where she had become blind.
In 1535, in fulfillment of her earlier vision, she founded what would later become the Institute of Saint Ursula (Ursuline Sisters). The Ursuline Order went on to become the oldest teaching order of religious women in the Catholic Church.
She was canonized on May 24, 1807. Her Feast Day was originally June 1, but was moved to January 27th.
About the Church of Saint Afra & Church of Saint Angela in Brescia:
During her life, Saint Angela Merici liked to pray the tombs of the Brescian martyrs at the Church of St. Afra in Brescia.
This church was virtually destroyed during World War II, and as a result a new church was built on the spot. The new church was dedicated to Saint Angela Merici, and the name of the Church of Saint Afra was given to another church.
Her incorrupt body can be seen here, as shown in the photo above. We should point out that her body was discovered to be incorrupt in 1930 and then covered with some sort of preservative.
Traveling to Brescia:
There is regular train service from Milan, and other cities, to Brescia. It is a fairly easy walk from the train station to the church. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
Address: Via Francesco Crispi, 271, 25121 Brescia
GPS coordinates: 45° 32′ 5.5572” N, 10° 13′ 30.0288” E
Tel: +39 030 230 4223
There is no official website for the Church itself.