St. Ursula in Ühlingen

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St. Ursula is the Ühlingen parish church and belongs to the pastoral care unit of Upper Schlücht Valley. 

Official content of Ühlingen-Birkendorf

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Ursula was a woman who was murdered together with her companions in Cologne around 304, possibly in the context of the Diocletian persecution. The figure of 11,000 fellow sufferers was based on an accidental multiplication of the actual amount by a factor of a thousand.

The legend tells of Ursula, the daughter of a Christian king called Maurus. She was widely renowned for her beauty and decided at a young age to maintain her virginity forever. Her father however betrothed her to the English prince Aetherius, who had received a piece of land in present-day Brittany from the emperor for his loyal services. He intended to settle there after the marriage. Ursula requested a respite of three years, during which Aetherius was to be instructed in the Christian faith and baptised. She herself wanted to prepare together with ten select virgins, of which she was the eleventh. A thousand additional virgins were to join for each individual girl – all of them were to be consecrated and baptised but also trained in knightly games as well as to swear an oath of new knighthood. Ships were to be built and secular and religious protectors, such as the bishops Pantalus of Basel and Maurisius of Sicily, were to accompany the virgins on a trip to Rome. Gerasina, the widowed Sicilian queen and sister of Ursula’s mother Daria, arrived for the journey’s preparations together with her son and four daughters, who joined the virgins. They set sail with a good wind but then encountered a heavy storm in the North Sea which drove them into the mouth of the Rhine and from there to Cologne where they were warmly welcomed by Queen Sigillindis.

An angel came to Ursula in a dream and told her that she would return to Cologne after her visit to Rome and become a martyr. Initially, the journey continued along the Rhine to Basel; from there, everyone continued to Rome on foot. In the meantime, an angel had come to Aetherius, too, instructing him to travel to meet his bride. He, too, arrived in Rome together with his mother, sister, and the bishop Marculus of Greece. Ursula was received by Pope Siricius, who joined the group on their return journey to Cologne with several bishops. Two anti-Christian, Roman lords had wanted to win the virgins for themselves – to no avail. Thus, they secretly convinced the Huns to ambush and kill Ursula and her party in Cologne. When the ships arrived around 451, the bloodbath among the 11,000 virgins took place in the most gruesome manner. Ursula alone remained alive at the end. The lord of the Huns desired her for himself and, when she resisted him unwaveringly, he shot her with his arrow.

Other legends claim that the virgins encountered the Huns upon their arrival in Cologne because they were laying siege to the city. The soldiers attacked, abused, and killed the women. Ursula however was desired by the king of the Huns. She refused him, upon which she was killed by an arrow. 11,000 angels then descended from the sky and drove the Huns from the city as punishment. Her name means small bear (Latin) or small warhorse (German). She is depicted with the light of the wise virgins, an arrow, and/or a ship.

She is known as the patron saint of Cologne, of virgins, of youth, of teachers, of cloth merchants, and the universities of Cologne, Vienna, and Coimbra. She is also the patron of war times, a good marriage, and a peaceful death. She is also considered a protector against childhood disease and the torment of the purgatory.

The feast day of the church is on 21 October.


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