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The oldest women's teaching order of the Roman Catholic Church. Founded at Brescia (1535) by Angela Merici* and named after St. Ursula, patron of the foundress, it was a society of virgins dedicated to Christian education while living at home. Approved by Paul III (1544), regular community life and simple vows were introduced in 1572 at the instigation of Charles Borromeo.* On profession, members took a fourth vow to devote themselves to education. Paul V allowed the Ursulines of Paris solemn vows and strict enclosure (1612). Convents on these lines, following a modified Augustinian Rule, multiplied in France under Madeleine de Sainte Beuve, assisted by Madame Acarie, and Ann de Xainctonge. Temporarily halted during the French Revolution, growth again continued in the nineteenth century. In Quebec, Canada, convents were founded under Marie Guyard.* At a congress in Rome (1900), numerous convents belonging to different congregations united in the “Roman Union,” members of which take simple perpetual vows. Many converts which have remained independent have solemn vows and papal enclosure. Their habit is black with long sleeves; the professed wear black veils, while novices and lay sisters wear white veils.

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