Angela Merici: The way of an urban prophet. A pre-modern narrative for a post-modern world

Rebecca Buchanan, Fordham University


This study examines our human vocation through the life and pedagogy of Angela Merici. Merici was a 16th century Italian woman, who founded The Company of St. Ursula. Shortly, after her death it became the Ursuline Order. This work seeks to demonstrate that Merici's life-mission was to reclaim our Christian Story and vocation that was subverted by the ideology of patriarchy during the Italian Renaissance. A pre-modern narrative for a post-modern world, Merici's life, the study proposes, was a prophetic impulse that has implications for our current familial, social and political structures, as well as for life within the Church and society today. The research design utilizes the symbolic metaphor of Beauty to explore the pre-modern narrative of Merici as a way to educate towards our human vocation in a post-modern world. An aesthetic hermeneutical lens is employed to bridge themes of Merici's pedagogy to current religious education theory and practice. The symbol of Beauty emerged from the research as a political educative form of life that stands in resistance to destructive and deceptive structures created by nullified patriarchal symbols of the 16th century. The central thesis of this study argues that Merici's pedagogy can be re-conceptualized if seen through a dialogue between the problems experienced by enslaving symbols in her culture and the current problems created by the deadening symbols of a mechanistic, patriarchal, and consumerist culture in the United States. The work proposes that the symbolic expression of Merici's narrative educated towards a form of cultural resistance that liberated women, children, and men to be refashioned in the image of God. It purports that as religious educators, it is our moral responsibility to create a new pedagogy that no longer suppresses our spiritual gifts, and that liberates our religious imagination and inner wisdom so that we might overcome the oppressive hierarchical structures that no longer function redemptively in the world today.

Subject Area

Religious education|Theology|Religious history|Biographies

Recommended Citation

Buchanan, Rebecca, "Angela Merici: The way of an urban prophet. A pre-modern narrative for a post-modern world" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3222142.