January 4th is the feast day of another great Saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton. I continue to enjoy learning more about Saint Elizabeth (and all the Saints as a matter of fact). Her life and her path to holiness is fascinating like so many of our holy heroes that have come from all walks of life to show us how to know, love and serve God.
Here are some things you might not know about Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
1. Saint Elizabeth was born Elizabeth Ann Bayley in New York City on August 28, 1774.
2. She was raised as a devout Episcopalian.
3. Her father was a physician and she grew up with riches and affluent social circles.
4. At age 19 she married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton, and moved into a beautiful residence on Wall Street.
5. Elizabeth suffered greatly from many loved one’s deaths.
6. Elizabeth was just 3 when her mother died in 1777.
7. Elizabeth’s baby sister died in 1778.
8. Her husband’s business went bankrupt and her family moved in with her father.
9. Her father soon died which devastated Elizabeth.
10. After Elizabeth sailed to Italy with her husband and eldest daughter, her husband died of tuberculosis.
11. She was a widow at age 29, penniless and raising 5 children, two of whom died at a young age.
12. While in Italy, Elizabeth visited Catholic Churches.
13. She eventually felt called to convert to Catholicism seeing the faith in action through family friends.
14. She became Catholic because….she came to believe in the Real Presence.
15. …She had a devotion to our Blessed Mother.
16. …And she was convinced that the Catholic Church was truly apostolic, linking back to the apostles and to Christ Himself as the founder.
17. In March 1805 she entered the Catholic Church.
18. She was rejected by many family and friends because of her decision to become Catholic.
19. Elizabeth opened a school in Baltimore to support her children.
20. Elizabeth’s sister-in-law also became Catholic and together they started the first Sisters of Charity community in the U.S. in 1809 in Emittsburg, Maryland.
21. The Sisters of Charity was the first first congregation of religious sisters to be founded in the United States.
22. Its school was the first free Catholic school in America.
23. This humble beginning marked the start of the Catholic parochial school system in the United States.
24. The Sisters of Charity focused on education, children and the poor.
25. Elizabeth Seton was called Mother Seton.
26. Mother Seton established the first Catholic orphanage in the country, Saint Joseph’s Asylum in Philadelphia.
27. She also established schools in and around Emittsburg, Maryland.
28. Her favorite prayer was Psalm 23.
29. She died of tuberculosis on January 4, 1821 at the age of 46.
30. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s remains are entombed in the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
31. You can visit the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
32. At the National Shrine you can see this room where Mother Seton spent her final days.
33. Elizabeth Ann Seton wanted her bed placed in the corner and the picture of Jesus in the bottom right corner hung across from her bed because she wanted to see Him as soon as she woke up each morning.
34. The tour guide is lifting up the mattress and explained that the beds were lined with ropes. Under Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton’s mattress were ropes tied together for support and it’s said that’s where the expression “Good night, sleep tight! ” comes from.
35. Pope Paul VI canonized Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton on September 14, 1975 and she is the first native-born American to be canonized!
She’s pretty amazing, huh?