The Institute of the Ursuline Sisters of St.Jerome in Somasca was founded by the Cittadini sisters, Caterina (1801-1857) and Giuditta (1803-1840), in the first half of the nineteenth century in Somasca, a hamlet of Vergurago village, now in the province of Lecco.
Caterina and Giuditta were orphaned in early childhood and experienced an extremely precarious youth, both physically and emotionally. Being orphans they were welcomed for many years in the orphanage of the Conventino in Bergamo, where they received diploma as elementary school teachers. They came to Calolziocorte and were welcomed by cousins Maria, don Antonio and don Giovanni, priests, and then in Somasca, where Caterina was teacing in the municipal elementary school of Vercurago in the section located precisely in the hamlet of Somasca. Caterina and Giuditta, also on the advice of Don Giuseppe Brena, prior of the orphanage of the Conventino, gradually matured the awareness of the call to religious life: At first they lived in rented houses, then in a house of their own which would become the “Motherhouse” of their educational work and of the new religious family which they initiated.
Blessed Catherina Cittadini
Mo Juditta Cittadini
In those years their desire for consecration undoubtedly developed and became firm, taking its shape in their everyday educational work among young girls.
In fact the Cittadini sisters, whose personal experience had been so hard, understood the urgency of the human and Christian education of young girls and, little by little, carried out their life projects. In 1829 they welcomed the first girls; in 1831 they began a private school and in 1836 a boarding school for girls’ education, works run by Giuditta. In 1847 Caterina applied for official approval to include a small orphanage for outcast young girls, who were numerous in that area. In 1840, because of the early death of Giuditta, Caterina took charge of the whole work. Caterina and Giuditta did their best with all their abilities and means for the educational benefit of the girls left in their care. They clearly manifested the ideal of their utter consecration to God in the form of motherly education. They wanted to be “real mothers in Christ” for “those souls that the Lord had redeemed with His blood and entrusted to their care as a valuable treasure”; they committed themselves to the well-rounded education of the girls, “training them in every branch of teaching concerning not only education but also needlework and knitting as well housework,” without omitting anything which could “contribute to their spiritual and physical improvement.”
The human-spiritual-charismatic trait that marks all the communitarian-apostolic experiences of the Ursulines of Saint Gerolamo in Somasca, in Europe, and in the mission ad gentes, was undoubtedly their “vocation for the people,” the simplicity of acting with a motherly heart as educational apostles close to people, with a special care for children, girls and youth. They wanted to share the joy and the suffering of families, sick people, old people, and those who experienced insecurity and loneliness.
Fidelity at the heart...
Still today, fidelity to their history is rooted in two women, Blessed Caterina Cittadini and her sister Giuditta. Sure of God’s fatherly and providential love, they opened their hearts, once scarred by a lack of love, to the miracle of an educational fruitfulness that could give others joy, dignity and hope.
The Foundress had a filial devotion to Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God and took her as the perfect model of spiritual and apostolic life. Hence the Congregation is entrusted to the maternal protection of Mary Immaculate (Feast on Dec.8th) and St. Ursula is the Patroness of the Congregation (Feast on Oct.21st ) and St.Angela Merici (Feast on Jan27). St. Jerome Emiliani (Feb.8th ).
Patroness: St. Ursula
St. Ursula was a legendary Saint, who had shown heroic strength, fidelity and courage in defending a group of young Princesses from the attack of ‘pagans’ and led all of them to prefer death/martyrdom, rather than give up their faith in Christ and their integrity. She was one of the Saints most popular at that time and was considered as the patroness of educators. Blessed Caterina & Mo.Giuditta chose St. Ursula as patroness.
St. Angela gathered young girls to be trained in works of charity.
She therefore established, under the name of Saint Ursula, a female Order, to which she entrusted the task of seeking perfection of life in the world and of educating adolescent girls in the ways of the Lord.
The milestones of our presence in India
Every drop makes the ocean. So also the hard beginnings of the pioneer’s endeavours have borne abundant fruits for the kingdom of God. In India the state of Karnataka was launched in 1976 the village called Anekal (Banglore). Standing on the shoulders of our pioneering missionaries we continue to seek the will of God to let his light shine upon us in order to persevere daily to answer the clarion call of the church to address the relevant issues of modern society. We strive relentlessly to give birth to the “culture of life” with a global view and digital approach carrying the gospel light to women and the poor of our society. This new way of seeing which is inclusive and holistic is a way of knitting communion in mutuality, interdependence and equality. Later the sisters came to Mysore in the year 1978 and worked with the poor and illiterate slum people in N.R Mohalla.
A small seed that was sown in the year 1978 has today grown into a massive tree, sheltering under its wings a thousands of young girl students, particularly from poorer section of society, imparting to them value based education despite of caste, creed and moulding them into truly responsible citizens and future mothers of our country.
THE LITTLE COMPANY SPREADS OUT
It is interesting to note that our congregation had spread its wings from Karnataka to distant places like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and UP. It was indeed a sign of its vivid and vigorous life that Christ had made it to take up such challenges.
50 years have passed since the establishment of the Ursuline Sisters of St.Jerome in Somasca (USS) in Karnataka. It is a great landmark in the annals of our Institute. The history of the past 50 years has been replete with achievements for our Institute. Its expansion, the numerous vocations and the good done in so many spheres could be possible due to the generous response which the sisters have given. Our Foundresses found the sense and style of their spiritual maternity in the guardianship of those “souls redeemed by His blood and entrusted to them as a precious treasure.” Keeping in mind these words we render our service to humanity in educational, social, healthcare and other activities. Our educational institutes have been founded for the education of children who are poor and destitute. In spite of all kinds of pressure, struggles and difficulties we still try to keep up our thrust and attempt various means to expand and grow.