Elizabeth Ann Seton

(1774-1821). Born at New York City; died at Emmitsburg, Maryland.



Portrait d'E. Seton
Eglise E. Seton - New York

    America's firth native-born saint, Elisabeth grow up in a wealthy and prominent Episcopalian family. Her father, a doctor, was New York York's first public health officer. Her mother died when she was three.
    Elizabeth's lonely childhood was exacerbated by her father's absorption in his work and, on his remarrying, by her stepmother's dislike of her.
    Her happy marriage to William Seton in 1794 - they had five children - ended with his death in 1804 from tuberculosis. He died while in Italy with Elizabeth, on a trip meant to restore his health.
    Elizabeth became a Catholic on her return to New York, attracted by her experience of the church in Italy. Feeling the sting of anti-Catholic prejudice - common, at the time

Portrait Elizabeth Ann Seton
St Patrick Cathedral - New York City

 she accepted an invitation to open a school in the diocese of Baltimore, Maryland.
    She moved there with her children and, not long after, started a Catholic chool that accepted children of the poor at no charge. Other women joined her in the work and this was the beginning of the Sisters of Charity, the first religious order founded in the United States.
    Seton endured painful losses in her later years. Two of her daughters and two sistcrs-in1-law died. "I have lost the little friend of my heart," she said of her fourteen-year-old daughter, Rebecca.
    Her religious order flourished, not without difficulty, and today six branches of the Sisters of Charity trace their origin to Elizabeth Seton.

    Feast : January 4.



                                                                   Cynthia Cavnar

From The Saints from A to Z: An Inspirational Dictionary
(Servant Publications) by Cynthia Cavnar, copyright Cynthia Cavnar.


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