On September 14, 1975, Pope Paul VI canonized Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton. This made her the first American-born citizen to be a canonized saint.
Seton was born in New York City on August 28, 1774. She was raised as a firm Protestant but was introduced to Roman Catholicism in June 1804 by family friends during a difficult and dark time in her life. By the age of 29, Seton became a widow and mother of five young children, two of whom died at a young age. She began focusing her time and effort on raising her children and volunteering for the local Catholic Church.
In 1809, she founded of The Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The Sisters of Charity was the first American sisterhood and focused on education, children and the poor. Mother Seton sent sisters to run the first Catholic orphanage in the country – Saint Joseph’s Asylum in Philadelphia. She also created Catholic schools in and around Emmitsburg.
On March 26, 1810, when summarizing her way of life, Mother Seton stated, “Faith lifts the staggering soul on one side, hope supports it on the other, experience says it must be and love says let it be.”
At 46 years of age, Mother Seton died of tuberculosis on January 4, 1821. One hundred and fifty-four years later, Mother Seton became Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the patron saint of Catholic schools.
Information, quote and photo can be found on Emmitsburg Area Historical Society’s website.