Benincasa, Ursula, Ven.

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Foundress of the Theatine Sisters; b. Naples, Oct. 20, 1547; d. St. Elmo's Mount, Naples, Oct. 20, 1618. At the age of 10 she received mystical gifts. In 1579, when refused admission to the Capuchinesses, she retired as a solitary to the nearby St. Elmo's Mount. There she built a church in honor of the Immaculate Conception. After a vision on March 12, 1582, Ursula went to Rome to interest Gregory XIII in her plans for assisting in Church reform. Again in Naples in 1583, she founded the Oblates of the Immaculate Conception, whose members consecrate themselves to God in the education of youth. In 1617 Ursula founded the Contemplative Hermit Sisters, an order with solemn vows and strict enclosure. Gregory XV approved its rules on June 23, 1623, and put this institute and the Oblates under the direction of the Theatine Fathers. To Ursula's vision of Feb. 2, 1617 is attributed the origin of the Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception. Pius VI proclaimed the heroicity of her virtues on Aug. 7, 1793.

Bibliography: a. veny ballester, Ursula Benincasa (Zaragoza 1967). m. heimbucher, Die Orden urd Kongregationen der katolischen Kirche, 2 v. (3d. ed. Paderborn 193234) 2:104106. f. m. maggi, Compendium vitae venerabilis matris Ursulae de Benincasa (Brussels 1658).

[a. sagrera]