734, rue des Ursulines
Trois-Rivières (Québec) G9A 5B5

Phone number: 819 375-7922

The Ursulines were founded in 1535 in Bresicia, Italy, by Saint Angela Merici. This company, devoted to education, was placed under the protection of Saint Ursula, a martyr from the 5th century.

In founding this company, Angela Merici opened a wide door of opportunities for women, besides marriage or a cloister: a life consecrated to God while continuing to live in the world. Her twelve chapter Rule contained several original features, including a chapter on company governance that placed the exercise of authority in the hands of women, governed by a “Mother Superior.”

After becoming Bishop of Milan, Charles Borromée brought the Company of Saint Ursula into his diocese, after which he recommended that other bishops do the same. In 1581, while visiting Bresica, he made changes to Saint Angela’s Rule. The twelfth chapter was completely rewritten: authority was given to a “Father Superior,” to whom the Company had to submit. Decrees from the Council of Trent and public opinion led the Ursulines to become a cloistered order. The Order of Saint Ursula, OSU, was born. It was the first teaching order for women in the Church. By 1768, there were 350 Ursuline monasteries in France, where nearly 9,000 nuns were educating the majority of the country’s young girls.

In 1639, the Ursulines of Tours sent Saint Marie de l’Incarnation to New France, where she founded the monastery in Québec and the colony’s first school for young girls. This was the first Ursuline monastery outside of Europe.

In the late 17th century, Trois-Rivières still had no teaching or hospital communities.  Teaching was done by the missionaries, school masters or notaries.

In 1697, the second bishop of Québec, Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier, asked the Ursulines to found a convent in Trois-Rivières where the nuns would assume the dual roles of educators and caregivers.

Three nuns from Québec arrived on October 10, 1697: Mother Marie Drouet de Jésus, first superior of the Ursulines of Trois-Rivières, Mother Marie Le Vaillant de Sainte-Cécile, assistant and Sister Françoise Gravel Sainte-Anne, nun.  The small group of founders were accompanied by the chaplain and the superior of the Québec monastery, Mother Marie Lemaire des Anges, who became the second superior in Trois-Rivières.  They were taken to the governor’s residence on the Platon, where they remained until 1699, when they moved into the Monastery on Rue Notre-Dame, now called Rue des Ursulines.