The Story of St. Elizabeth Anne Seton
ST. Elizabeth Anne Seton (Aug. 29, 1774 - Jan. 4, 1821)
Canonized: September 14th, 1975
Feast Day: January 4th
Mother Seton had three Great Devotions:
Doing the will of God
Loving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
Loving Her Blessed Mother
Elizabeth Anne Bayley was born on August 29th, 1774, in New York City to Dr. Richard Bayley and his wife Catherine Charlton. With the American Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 Elizabeth became one of the very first American Citizens.
In 1777, when Elizabeth was only three years old, her mother died and she lived alone with her father until a year later, when he married Charlotte Amelia Barclay. Years passed and Elizabeth grew to be a fine young woman. She was very intelligent and beautiful. All who met her liked her and she made many friends. Among her good friends was William Magee Seton who had just arrived from Europe where he was studying. He fell in love with Elizabeth and married her in 1794. In 1795, their first child was born and four others soon followed.
William, Elizabeth’s husband was a handsome, wealthy businessman. He worked with his father who owned many ships, however when the French Revolution broke out in 1793, his money was seized by the government. After his father died, William was left with the business and the care of twelve brothers, besides his wife and his own children. Soon, the business failed. In time, William’s health became very poor. He traveled to Italy with Elizabeth, where the weather was mild, to recover. However, after a month in the hospital of the Italian port, William died of tuberculosis.
Following her husband’s death, Elizabeth traveled to Florence. For the first time in her life Elizabeth entered a Catholic Church. She wrote in a letter: “When I entered the Church, I fell to my knees. I cried when I thought for how long I had been away from the house of the Lord.” Soon it was time to return to New York. After a long voyage of fifty-six days, Elizabeth arrived in New York on June 4, 1804 to the welcoming arms of her children and other members of her family. Elizabeth was willing to make any sacrifice to do God’s will. After five months of study about the Catholic Faith, She was received in to the Catholic Church on March 14, 1805.
Her conversion to Catholicism however, troubled many members of her family and soon they rejected Elizabeth. To support her children, she opened a school in Baltimore. God blessed her work. Soon the house was too small for the number of girls wishing to attend the school. Other young women who too, wished to devote themselves to a holy life joined her. In 1809, Elizabeth took Religious Vows, and as a Sister was allowed to raise her children. Several other women joined her, and together they formed a Religious Community. They were called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph and they followed the Rule of St. Vincent de Paul.
In time, both the community and the school grew, even though the trials for Mother Seton were heavy. Living conditions were poor and several of the Sisters died of tuberculosis. Elizabeth accepted all with courage and hope. Mother Seton had three great devotions: Doing the will of God, loving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and loving Her Blessed Mother.
In the midst of her busy life, Elizabeth found time to write many letters, a diary, and several other works. Years passed and Elizabeth too, became ill. On January 4, 1821, at two o’clock in the morning, Elizabeth Anne Seton died at the age of 46. The first American born citizen to become a saint, Elizabeth Anne Seton was canonized a saint by Pope Paul the 6th on September 14th, 1975, and her Feast day is January the 4th.