Thursday, August 18, 2022

Saints for Today: Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious (1774-1821)

Must Read

Saints for Today: Marie Alphonsine, Religious (1843-1927)

Sister Marie was an outstanding catechist and educator and a tireless apostle.

Bishop Appoints New Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia

September 12, 2016 To the Clergy, Consecrated Religious and Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Gallup, Bishop James S. Wall announces...

“Terror of Demons”: The Significance of the Year of St. Joseph

In this year of Saint Joseph, this title may well help us all to understand his particular patronage over the universal Church as well as his personal protection for all of us.
Dr. Jean Lee
Jean M. Lee, M.A., D.Min., is a licensed behavioral health and substance abuse counselor, founding a nonprofit, state-licensed behavior health counseling agency and Christian gift/book store. Volunteer work includes: Jail ministry, Legion of Mary membership, door-to-door evangelization, and writing a weekly newspaper column titled “Faith and Inspiration: Encyclopedia of Saints for Today.” A Catholic revert after 32 years away from the Church, she is devout in the Catholic faith, loves the saints, and lives a deeper spiritual/religious and more joyful life since returning to the Church.

Feast Day: January 4

This wife, mother and foundress of a religious congregation was born Elizabeth Ann Bayley in New York City, the daughter of an eminent physician and professor at what is now Columbia University. Brought up as an Episcopalian, she received an excellent education, and from her early years, she manifested an unusual concern for the poor. In 1794, Elizabeth married William Seton, a wealthy New York merchant, with whom she had five children. The eventual loss of their fortune so affected William’s health that in 1803 Elizabeth and William went to stay with Catholic friends (the Filicchi’s) in Livorno, Italy. William died six weeks after their arrival, and when Elizabeth returned to New York City some six months later, she was already a convinced Catholic. In March of 1805, she was received into the Catholic Church. Some friends and family members were so appalled by her decision that they shunned her.

She eventually left New York and traveled with her children to a new life in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she founded the American Sisters of Charity, the first religious congregation of women in the United States. She modeled them after the Sisters of Charity founded in France by St. Vincent de Paul. Elizabeth established the first Catholic orphanage in the United States and the first free Catholic day school, which marked the beginning of the American parochial school system. She trained teachers and prepared textbooks for use in the schools; she also opened orphanages in Philadelphia and New York City.

Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton died on January 4, 1821 at the age of 46, only 16 years after becoming a Catholic. Her spiritual director, Father Simon Gabriel Brute, wrote a glowing tribute to her character. In a letter from her long-time friend and benefactor, Antonio Filicchi, he wrote: “Her distinguishing characteristic was compassion and indulgence for poor sinners. Her charity made her watchful never to speak evil of others, always to find excuses or to keep silence. Her other special virtues were her attachment to her friends and her gratitude, her religious respect for the ministers of the Lord, and for everything pertaining to religion. Her heart was compassionate, religious, lavish of every good in her possession, disinterested in regard to all other things.” Pope Paul VI canonized Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1975, making her the first native-born American citizen to be recognized as a saint.

Words from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:

“I will go peaceably and firmly to the Catholic Church: for if faith is so important to our salvation, I will seek it where true Faith first began, seek it among those who received it from God Himself.”

“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.”

“Our misery is not to conform ourselves to the intentions of God as to the manner in which he will be glorified. What pleases Him does not please us. He wills us to enter in the way of suffering, and we desire to enter in action. We desire to give rather than receive – and do not purely seek his Will.”

“The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner He wills it; and, thirdly, to do it because it is His will.”


Ball, Ann. “Modern Saints: Their Lives and Faces.” Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1990.
Gallick, Sarah. “The Big Book of Women Saints.” New York, NY: HarperOne, 2007.
Ghezzi, Bert. “Voices of the Saints.” Chicago: Loyola Press, 2000.
Lodi, Enzo. “Saints of the Roman Calendar.” New York: Alba House, 1992.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Aging and a Season of Fruitfulness

‘The fast pace of the world can lead seniors to implicitly accept the idea that they are useless. My uncle never succumbed to this temptation.’


Other recent stories:

How Love of the Eucharist Helps With the Challenges of Raising a Family

Here it was, my suffering, presented to me in the darling chubby cheeks of delight of the incredibly beautiful children entrusted to me.

The Eucharist and Daily Living

Jesus gifted us with the greatest gift ever offered - Himself to us in the form of Holy Communion.

Jesus is Calling You: How the Eucharist Reveals Our Vocation

When you spend privileged time with Jesus, He will invite you to follow Him more closely. And, when the time is right, He will make His call to you clear.

Mary and the Eucharist

How Our Lady points the way to her Son.


More Articles Like This