Catholic Identity and Ursuline Charism
St. Angela Merici founded the Company of St. Ursula, known today as the Ursulines, in 1535. She was born (1474) and raised in the Lombardi region of Northern Italy near Lake Garda. Angela’s family (mother, father, sister, and brothers) was a close-knit farming family. St. Angela’s father was known to read the story of the Saints to his family. These stories of heroic virtue had an impact on St. Angela’s life of faith. St. Ursula and her mother’s patroness, St. Catherine of Alexandria, held particular importance in Angela’s life.
As Angela aged, her faith was shaped while wrestling with deep grief over the loss of her mother, father, and dear sister within a very short time. A mystical vision of her sister in the care of angels affirmed Jesus’ deep love for Angela and called her to acts of faith. With renewed hope in the promise of salvation through the love of Jesus, she sought the wisdom of local Franciscans. Their spiritual care and education prompted her to become a Third Order Franciscan. Thus began St. Angela’s work caring for the needs of others.
Prompted by the Franciscans, St. Angela moved to Brescia where she became a trusted spiritual advisor for many families in society. Her care for people regardless of their socio-economic status provoked many to seek to understand the love of God in their own lives. Widely known as a spiritual mother to the city of Brescia, St. Angela formed a company of women who felt called to live their devotion to God within the context of their place in society.
The Company of St. Ursula, founded on November 25, 1535 (The Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria) gave women of Brescia a means to live a committed single life while remaining in service to the secular society. St. Angela’s guidance to her dear sisters in Christ (the Rule, Counsels, and Legacies) brought forward a charism of loving God and serving others. To learn more about St. Angela from the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, click here.
St Angela's virtues are lived through our articulation our Ursuline Core Values – Reverence, Service, Leadership, Community. She counseled the leaders of her Company “The more you esteem them, the more you will love them; the more you love them, the more you will care for and watch over them. And it will be impossible for you not to cherish them day and night, and to have them all engraved in your heart, one by one, for this is how real love acts and works.” (Prologue to the Counsels). This is our approach at Sacred Heart Schools where each individual is recognized as a person created in the image and likeness of God. Each of us are an integral part of our community who share our God-given gifts for the good of all.
The History and Symbols of the Ursuline Coat of Arms
The Ursuline Coat of Arms belongs to the worldwide Ursuline community. It is a symbol that unifies the Ursuline congregations and tells the story of their founding and ministry across the centuries.
Dating back to 1607, the coat of arms is a combination of the original arms of the Ursuline Monastery, Rue Saint Jacques in Paris, and an ancient Badge of the Order of Saint Ursula.
Mottos (Latin and Translation)
- Soli Deo Gloria – “Be Glory to the Only God”
- Qui Ad Justiam Erudiunt Multos Fulgebunt Quasi Stellae in Perpetuas Aeternitates – “Those who instruct many unto justice shall shine as stars for all eternity.” This motto is from the book of the Prophet Daniel (Dan 12:3) and reflects the fourth vow Ursulines take to teach Christian living.
Crown and Stars
- The crown above the shield symbolizes the heavenly reward promised to those who are faithful to God.
- The “double star” symbolizes the life of prayer that supports daily active life. The four-point star in the front represents the four vows of the Ursuline Sisters (poverty, chastity, obedience, teaching).
Left Side – Coat of Arms from the Monastery of Rue St. Jacques
- The halo of glory surrounds the names of Jesus and Mary blended. The representation of Jesus and Mary reminds us of their place in our lives.
- Three passion nails below IHS and the cross above recall the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection redeemed the world.
- Over the halo is a star, which is said to have shone over the house where St. Angela’s body lay awaiting burial.
- The Fleur de Lis, to the right and left of the star, recall the protection and patronage by the House of Bourbon to the St. Jacques Monastery.
Right Side – Badge from the Order of St. Ursula
- The laurel tree recalls the victory won by St. Ursula, according to legend, on the field of battle. It symbolizes the Order of St. Ursula and represents the religious who have conquered self and overcome temptations to ambition, wealth, and power (poverty, chastity, obedience). The laurel is growing. Its roots imply a firm foundation in faith, hope, and love (Theological Virtues).
- Ursula Laurus, this scroll represents the legend of St. Ursula. (Laurus is an anagram of Ursula)
- The descending dove represents the Holy Spirit. This is also a reference to an old document, which stated that a dove alighted on a tomb in the Cathedral of Cologne to indicate the burial of St. Ursula.
- A cross is to the left of the dove. It is the Christian symbol of victory.
- An Arrow is to the right of the dove. It is a symbol of Ursula’s martyrdom.
Office of Catholic Identity and Ursuline Charism
Sacred Heart Schools created the Office of Catholic Identity and Ursuline Charism in July 2022 to further the goals and aspirations set forth by our Strategic Plan: Sacred Heart Forever. The office consists of three staff members: Vice President of Mission and Community, Director of Mission Formation, and Campus Minister and Catechetical Program Manager.
Sacred Heart Schools' strategic plan, Sacred Heart Forever, begins with this Aspiration: To purposefully engage students and our community in the Ursuline core values, in meaningful service to others, and in opportunities to experience our broader world more deeply.
One of the goals of this aspiration is to build upon and integrate within all schools the teaching mission of Jesus and the inspiration and witness of the Ursuline Sisters’ legacy and mission. Its first objective was to implement an Office of Catholic/Ursuline Identity and Mission to ensure our Catholic identity and Ursuline charism and values are engaged throughout all schools.
President Dr. Karen McNay says, “The strategic importance of this office moving forward is immeasurable. The Louisville community has been taught and served by the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville for generations. Our duty and privilege are now to carry their mission into the future. Sacred Heart Schools is fortunate to fill these positions with highly qualified and mission-centric Catholic leaders who share a great affection for the Ursuline Charism and a deep devotion to their Catholic faith.”
Mrs. Mia Cooper is the Vice President of Mission and Community. In this capacity, she continues her important work in increasing equity and community in keeping with the Schools’ focus on the Gospel teachings of Jesus Christ and the long-held messages of Catholic Social Teaching. In addition to her work with Sacred Heart, Mrs. Cooper is deeply involved in her parish, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and sits on the Board of Directors for Catholic Charities.
The Director of Mission Formation is Mrs. Jane Cruthirds. She was most recently the Director of Evangelization and Discipleship at St. Michael Catholic Church. Before her time at St. Michael, Jane was a Lead Theology teacher at Sacred Heart Academy, teaching Paschal Mystery, Ecclesiology, Sacraments, and Christian Morality, and was a collaborator in developing the Ursuline Charism course now taught at SHA. Jane is an Ursuline Associate and has served as a Committee Chair for the North American Ursuline Convocation.
Rounding out the office is our Campus Minister and Catechetical Program Manager, Andrea Hoback. Andrea has served Sacred Heart Schools in this role since August of 2012 and is completing her 10th year leading this ministry. She will continue the important work of providing opportunities for our campus community to gather as a Catholic community for mass, prayer service, bible study, sacraments, and more.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
International-mindedness lies at the heart of an International Baccalaureate (IB) education.
The aim of all IB programmes is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.