Ursula, a saint of the Roman Catholic church, and, according to the legend, a daughter of a Christian prince of Britain. The date of her martyrdom is variously given as 237, 383, or 451. She was demanded in marriage by a pagan prince, and fearing by a refusal to bring ruin upon her parents and country, she seemingly consented, but obtained a delay of three years, and a grant of 11 triremes and 10 noble companions, each as well as herself attended by 1,000 virgins. She passed the three years with her virgins in nautical exercises; and when the day fixed for her marriage arrived, a' sudden wind arose at their prayer, and wafted them to the mouth of the Rhine, and thence to Basel. Here they left their vessels, and made on foot a pilgrimage to Rome. On their return they fell in unexpectedly at Cologne with an army of Huns, by whom they were massacred, Ursula having refused an offer of marriage from the prince. Their corpses were buried by the people of Cologne, and a church was afterward erected in their honor, in which an immense collection of bones is still exhibited as those of Ursula and her companions.
The first traces of this legend, which was gradually enlarged, are met with in the 9th century.