Mother Julia Ursula Ledochowska was born on the 17th of April 1865 in the Austrian town Loosdorf. The daughter of the Polish count and the Swiss noblewoman. Julia Ursula moved to Poland with her family in 1883. When she was 21, entered the Convent of the Ursula Sisters in Cracow, took the religious name of „Maria Ursula of Jesus” and devoted herself to care and education of youth. In 1907 she took over management of the boarding-school for young polish girls in St. Petersburg. In 1910 she formed the grammar school for girls in Finland. In 1914 she was expelled from Russia. Then, she performed other beneficial work for Poland giving lectures in Sweden, Denmark and Norway on polish culture, history and Poland’s right to be an independent state. She published a book “Polonica” in Scandinavian languages. She developed in Sweden an Institute for Foreign Languages for Scandinavian youth, in Denmark – an educational establishment for children of polish immigrants and the housekeeping school. Mother Ursula ran her activities among catholic and protestant people in these countries.
In 1920, together with the nuns and polish orphans, children of immigrants, she returned to Poland and settled in Pniewy. The Ursula community received the status of the former Convent in St. Petersburg and with Vatican approval had been transformed into Mother Ursula’s own Congregation of Ursula Sisters of the Heart of Jesus in Agony. By the unanimous motion adopted by the City Council on the 13th of April 1939 Mother Ursula countess Ledochowska received the honorary citizenship of the City of Pniewy. The main goal of the Congregation is an expansion of the Kingdom of Jesus Heart on the Earth through “education and training of children and youth, apostolic service to the poorest and the oppressed among our brethren”. The motto of the Congregation are the words of Virgin Mary “I am the Lord’s servant”.
Mother Ursula died on the 29th of May 1939 in Rome. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her death the relics of the blessed Ursula (the corpse was well kept) were transported to Pniewy and on the 29th of May 1989 buried in a sarcophagus in the chapel there. In the 1983, Pope John Paul II beatified her during his second pastoral visit to Poland. On the 31st of October 1997 she was announced a co-patron of the Poznan Archdiocese.
To the Pniewy Sanctuary are coming lots of pilgrims, from home and abroad. Many people are coming, longing for silence, prayer and intercession of Saint Ursula. Mother Ursula was canonized in Rome on the 18th of May 2003.