St. Ursula is the patroness of the teaching order of nuns called Ursulines, dedicated for centuries especially to the education of girls. She has become known as the patron of Catholic education, teachers, and students.

Though the accounts vary, St. Ursula’s story consistently connects her with the legend of the eleven thousand virgins. These fourth or fifth century women accompanying a British king’s daughter were martyred by Huns in Cologne while returning from a pilgrimage to Rome. Ursula, the Christian princess, had embarked on the pilgrimage to avoid an arranged marriage to a pagan king, desiring instead to remain a virgin. When offered her life in return for marrying the Hun leader, she refused and was also killed.

Images and medals of St. Ursula depict her holding a pilgrim’s flag in one hand and three arrows in the other, representing the manner of her execution.