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Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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The oldest teaching order of religious women in the Catholic Church, founded at Brescia, Italy, by St. Angela Merici in 1525. They were approved by Pope Paul III in 1544 as a society of virgins, dedicated to Christian education but living in their own homes. In 1572, Pope Gregory XIII further approved their community life and simple vows at the request of St. Charles Borromeo. In 1612 the Ursulines of Paris were allowed to take solemn vows, and convents along these lines were soon established elsewhere, following a modified Rule of St. Augustine. In 1900 a congress of Ursulines met in Rome and effected a union of many congregations. These take simple vows, but some independent convents take solemn vows. There are twenty-five pontifical institutes of Ursulines, besides those belonging to the Roman Union.

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