Saint Ursula’s Day

Saint Ursula’s Day is a public holiday observed on the 21st of October every year in the British Virgin Islands. However, if that date falls on a weekend, the holiday is usually observed on the following Monday so that people do not miss out on their day off. This holiday commemorates Saint Ursula’s Feast Day, who is the patron saint of the British Virgin Islands.

This is because when Columbus sighted the islands, he named them Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes, or St. Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins in English. It is unknown whether Columbus gave the islands that name because he discovered them on October 21st in 1493, or if they merely reminded him of the legend of Saint Ursula.

The History of Saint Ursula’s Day

Saint Ursula is a Christian saint of Romano-British descent, whose death occurred on October 21st in 383. According to legend, she was a Dumnonian princess who set sail with 11,000 virginal handmaidens to join her future husband, the Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica — which would be modern-day Brittany.

According to this story, when she left the British coast with her fleet, a miraculous storm carried them to Gaul in just one day. She then decided that it was a sign she should take a pilgrimage around Europe before getting married. Her first stop was in Rome, where she managed to persuade the Pope and the Bishop of Ravenna to join her pilgrimage.

After a while, she ended up in Cologne, which was under siege by the Huns. All the virgins were beheaded by the Huns, and Ursula received a fatal arrow wound from the leader of the Huns. All the alleged relics of Ursula were then taken back to Cologne and housed in the Basilica of Saint Ursula.

Observing Saint Ursula’s Day in the British Virgin Islands

This holiday is observed with a day off for the general public, religious ceremonies, and public events that include festivals, fairs, and exhibitions. It is a day for people to spend with their loved ones and to enjoy one of the many activities observed on this holiday.

Where is it celebrated?
British Virgin Islands (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
October 21 Monday
Next year (2025)
October 21 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
October 21 Saturday