Olga's Gallery

Christian Saints

St. Ursula

        St. Ursula (and the eleven thousand virgins) was the daughter of a British Christian king betrothed to a pagan prince. Wishing to preserve her virginity, she obtained a three-year postponement, which she spent cruising on ship, according to legend: accompanied by ten noblewomen virgin companions, each occupying a ship with a thousand virgin handmaids. A storm blew them to the mouth of the Rhine, after what they sailed to Cologne and set out on a pilgrimage to Rome, where they met the Pope, Cyriacus. They sailed on to Basel and then returned to Cologne, where they were all martyred by the Huns for their Christianity after Ursula refused to marry their leader. The leader of the Huns allegedly shot Ursula dead with an arrow.
 Various sources claim that the actual number of virgins accompanying St. Ursula was between three and ten. Theories of where the eleven thousand came from include the possible misreading of the abbreviation “XI M.V.”, supposedly standing for “eleven martyred virgins” (“undecim martyres virgines”), as “eleven thousand virgins” (“undecim millia virgines”). Ursula’s feast day is October 21, but is no longer listed in the universal calendar since 1969 after the Roman reform of the calendar.

See: Giovanni Bellini. Madonna and Child between SS. Catherine and Ursula.
Caravaggio The Martyrdom of St. Ursula.
Hans Memling The Martyrdom of St. Ursula's Companions and The Martyrdom of St. Ursula.
Vittore Carpaccio. Legend of St. Ursula: The Meeting with the Pope. Legend of St. Ursula: St. Ursula's Dream. The Legend of St. Ursula: The Arrival of the English Ambassadors. The Legend of St. Ursula: Departure of the Ambassadors. The Legend of St. Ursula: Return of the Ambassadors. The Legend of St. Ursula: The Meeting of the Betrothed and the Departure for the Pilgrimage. The Legend of St. Ursula: Arrival in Cologne. The Legend of St. Ursula: Martyrdom and Funeral of St. Ursula. The Legend of St. Ursula: Apotheosis of St. Ursula.

By Sergey Mataev and Olga Mataev
Recommended reading:
Lives of the Saints: From Mary and Francis of Assisi to John XXIII and Mother Teresa by Richard McBrien (Author). Harper San Francisco, 2001.
The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford Paperback Reference) by David Hugh Farmer. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Christian Saints Index

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