St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was born into a wealthy Episcopalian family in New York City in 1774.  At the age of 19, she married William Magee Seton and they had five children.  Before the age of 30, Elizabeth Ann was a widow.  With the family firm in bankruptcy, she embraced the Roman Catholic Faith, which in early New York brought social rejection upon her and her children.  Undaunted, she took them to Maryland and cared for them while opening a school to support herself and her family.  Her reputation as an educator came to the attention of Bishop John Carroll who encouraged her to begin a religious community of women.  The congregation today is known as the Sisters of Charity.  Mother Seton, and her community of seven sisters, plus her three daughters left Baltimore for Emmitsburg, Maryland, which is recognized as the foundation of the community.

Elizabeth Ann Seton is recognized as the founder of Catholic Education in the United States.  Her first school, an all girls academy, called St. Joseph’s Free School accepted children of all races.  Her personal life was filled with tragedy.  Her son Richard was lost at sea.  Her devoted sisters-in-law, Harriet and Cecilia, died within a few months of each other.  They were followed by the deaths of her daughters, Anna and Rebecca.  Elizabeth Ann Seton died on January 4, 1821 at the age of 46 and is buried with her family in the cemetery at St. Joseph’s School in Emmitsburg.  Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first American born citizen to be canonized a Saint in Rome on September 14, 1975.