Ursula Ledóchowska

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Saint Ursula Ledóchowska
Ursula Leduhovskaya in 1907.jpg
Saint Ursula, 1907
Religious and foundress
Born 17 April 1865
Loosdorf, Lower Austria, Austrian Empire
Died 29 May 1939 (aged 74)
Rome, Italy
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
(Congregation of the Ursulines of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus)
Beatified 20 June 1983, Poznań, Poland, by Pope John Paul II
Canonized 18 May 2003, Vatican City, by Pope John Paul II
Feast 29 May

Ursula Maria Ledóchowska, USAHJ (17 April 1865 – 29 May 1939) was a Polish Catholic Religious Sister, who founded the Congregation of the Ursulines of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus. She was a member of the prominent Ledóchowski family. She has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church.


She was born Julia Maria Ledóchowska on 17 April 1865 in Loosdorf, Lower Austria, to Count Antoni Halka-Ledóchowski, whose ancestors lived in eastern Poland, and his second wife, Countess Josephine Salis-Zizers, a descendant of an old Swiss aristocratic family. She was the fifth child of a family with finally ten children.[1] Cardinal Mieczysław Halka-Ledóchowski was a paternal uncle.

Due to financial reverses, in 1874 the family moved to Sankt Poelten, where she and her sister attended a grammar school run by the Religious Sisters of Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commonly known as the Sisters of Loreto. In 1882, her father acquired an estate in Lipnica Murowana near Tarnów (then in Galicia, Austrian Lesser Poland) and in 1883 the family moved there.[2] The count died in February 1885 due to smallpox. The siblings' uncle, Cardinal Ledóchowski, assumed responsibility for them.

On 18 August 1886, Julia Maria entered the novitiate of the Ursulines of Kraków. The next year she received the religious habit and was given the religious name Ursula Maria. In 1904, she was elected as Mother Superior of the monastery. In Kraków she opened a home for female university students. At that time, that was a new phenomenon. With a special blessing of Pope Pius X, she went to St. Petersburg in Russia, where she worked to build up St. Catharine House, which was a residence for Roman Catholic Polish youth living there.[2] She wore civil clothes, because Roman Catholic institutions were illegal in the Russian Empire. As the tsarist government oppression to Catholics grew, she moved to Russian-controlled Finland, where she translated prayers and songs for Finnish fishermen, who usually were Protestants.[2] In 1914, she finally was expelled from the empire.

After then settling in Stockholm, Sweden, Ledóchowska started a language school and a domestic science school for girls. In Denmark, she founded an orphanage. In 1920, she moved back to Poland with 40 other nuns who had joined her in her mission. With permission from Rome, she changed her independent monastery in Pniewy into the then newly founded Congregation of the Ursulines of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus. In 1928 she founded a religious centre in Rome. In 1930 she sent 30 nuns to female Polish workers in France.

In early May 1939, Ledóchowska traveled to Rome, where she died on 29 May 1939, aged 74, in the Gray Ursuline convent, Via del Casalet, of natural causes. Her incorrupt body was translated to the Gray Ursuline motherhouse in Pniewy, Poland in 1989.

In 2003, the congregation founded by her numbered about 900 sisters in 100 communities located in 12 countries around the world. There are communities in Italy, Poland and the Philippines.[3]

Since 2006 she is the patron saint of Sieradz, Poland.


Ledóchowska was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 20 June 1983 and canonized on 18 May 2003. Her sister, Maria Teresia Ledóchowska, had been beatified on 19 October 1975 by Pope Paul VI for her services to the Catholic Church.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bielak, Valeria. "The servant of God - Mary Theresa Countess Ledóchowska", 2nd ed., 1944, published by the Sodality of St. Peter Claver, Saint Paul, Minnesota, p. 4. The names of the children from the first marriage of her father with Countess Seilers were Timothy, Antony, and Casimir. The names of the children from his second marriage with Countess Josephine Salis-Zizers were Mary Theresa, Julia, Wlodimir, Mary (who died at the age of five), Ernestine, Frances and Ignatius. Two other children, called Josefa and Stanislaus, died soon after their birth.
  2. ^ a b c "M. Ursula Ledóchowska, Foundress of the Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus", Sanktuarium
  3. ^ Kirche bunt, St. Pöltner Kirchenzeitung, Nr. 20, 58th year, May 18, 2003 (an edition of the church journal of St. Pölten, in German).

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