Our Patron Saint

Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born August 28, 1774 in New York City and was baptized in the Episcopalian faith. Her mother died when Elizabeth and her two sisters were very young. Her father, a physician and first Public Health Officer in America, married a woman who did not particularly care for the Bayley girls. When Elizabeth's .sister died, she and her older sister moved to New Rochelle to live with their uncle. In her mid-teens, Elizabeth returned to New York City to become part of the debutante scene. It was at a ball that she met her future husband, William Seton, a member of one of the wealthiest and most prominent New York families. (William was the first to bring the Stradivarius violin to America).

Mother SetonElizabeth and William married, had five children, and enjoyed living in luxury. They raised William's younger siblings after their parents died. William took over the family business, mismanaged it, and the Seton empire went bankrupt Elizabeth wrote off the humiliation in having to watch their personal belongings repossessed. She watched as her husband deteriorated emotionally and physically from their financial situation To lift his spirits Elizabeth made arrangements with a former business associate, the Felicchi family to visit them in Italy. During the two month voyage William was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Upon their arrival in Italy he was detained on board for several weeks. Two weeks after his release, William Seton died.

The Felicchis cared for Elizabeth while she awaited her return passage to the States. Through them she became acquainted with Catholicism and found herself drawn to the faith Antonio Felicchi accompanied Elizabeth back to American and instructed her in Catholicism on the voyage home.

When Elizabeth announced to her family and friends her plans to convert, she was met with anger and hostility. Few friends and fewer and fewer family members supported this bankrupt widow. Elizabeth was hired as a teacher in a boarding school but was quickly dismissed because of her religion.

Archbishop John Carroll heard of Elizabeth's situation and invited her to Baltimore. Under his direction, Elizabeth opened the first Catholic school for girls in the United States in 1806 (tuition was $250). Elizabeth desired to be part of a religious community. After much prayer and guidance, Elizabeth formed a community for women called the Sisters of St Joseph. Elizabeth took her vows in 1809 assumed a religious habit modeled after the widow's c clothing she wore during her mourning period, and became known as Mother Seton.

The Sisters of St Joseph were given land in Emmitsburg Maryland by a wealthy convert, Samuel Cooper. Samuel was so impressed with Elizabeth Ann Seton that he not only donated land, but stipulated money for the support of women religious and for the growth of Mother Seton Catholic school. On June 24, 1809 Mother Seton arrived in Emmitsburg and on February 22, 1810 the first free Catholic school opened.

During her life as a religious, Mother Seton expanded her community to include several schools, orphanages, hospitals, and child care centers. Elizabeth Ann Seton was truly a remarkable woman. She was a wife, convert, mother, widow, single parent, religious foundress, and the first American born saint.

Mother Seton died on January 4, 1821. Her last words were, " Be children of the Church."

Links to Information
About Mother Seton

Seton Heritage Pages

Catholic Online Elizabeth Ann Seton Page

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton | Charter Day (Seton Hall U.)

Domestic-Church.Com: Saint Profile: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton - Suite101.com

Books, Videos:

National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton ~ Gift Shop Online Catalog

The Soul of Elizabeth Seton (Inatius Press)

Patron Saints Index Commercial Page for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

"Seton" at Acquinas Books

National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, MD

Photos | ImageEvent —Emmitsburg: Seton Shrine/Lourdes Grotto

Natl. Park Srv. Balt. Travel Itinerary - Mother Seton House

The Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Lower Manhattan, New York City

Seton statue, Lourdes Shrine, Emmitsburg, Maryland


Seton Novena Prayer

Oh, God our Father,
glorify here upon earth
your servant
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
by manifesting the power of her intercession
through the favor I now implore.

(Here mention your intention.)

We ask this
through Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
forever and ever.