Born: August 28, 1774
Died: January 4, 1821
Feastday: January 4th
Patron of: Teachers, schools, education in-law problems, against the death of children, widows, death of
parents, and opposition of Church authorities
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was the first native born American to be canonized by the Catholic
Born two years before the American Revolution, Elizabeth grew up in the upper class of New York
society. She was a prolific reader, and read everything from the Bible to contemporary novels.
In spite of her high society background, Elizabeth's early life was quiet, simple, and often lonely.
In 1794, Elizabeth married the wealthy young William Seton, with whom she was deeply in love.
Within four years, William's father died, leaving the young couple in charge of William's seven half
brothers and sisters, as well as the family's importing business.
Events moved quickly from there with devastating effect. Both William's business and health failed.
He was finally forced to file a petition of bankruptcy and, in a final attempt to save William's health, the
Setons sailed for Italy, where William had business friends.
Unfortunately, William died of tuberculosis while in Italy. Elizabeth's one consolation was that he
had recently awakened to the things of God.
The accepting and embracing of God's will - "The Will," as she called it - would be a keynote in her
Elizabeth's deep concern for the spiritual welfare of her family and friends eventually led her into the
In Italy, Elizabeth captivated everyone by her kindness, patience, good sense, wit, and courtesy.
At the suggestion of the president of St. Mary's College in Baltimore, Maryland, Elizabeth started a
school in that city. They established the first free Catholic school in America. When the young community
adopted their rule, they made provisions for Elizabeth to continue raising her children.
Although Mother Seton became afflicted with tuberculosis, she continued to guide her children. By
1818, in addition to their first school, the sisters had established two orphanages and another school. Today,
six groups of sisters can trace their origins to Mother Seton's initial foundation.
Mother Seton died in 1821 at the age of 46, only sixteen years after becoming a Catholic.
Prayer of St. Elizabeth
Unite me to Thyself,
O adorable Victim.
Life-giving heavenly Bread,
reign in me,
transform me to Thyself,
live in me;
let me live in Thee;
let me adore Thee in Thy life-giving Sacrament as my God,
listen to Thee as to my Master,
obey Thee as my King,
imitate Thee as my Model,
follow Thee as my Shepherd,
love Thee as my Father,
seek Thee as my Physician
who wilt heal all the maladies of my soul.
Be indeed my Way,
Truth and Life;
O heavenly Manna,
through the desert of this world,
till I shall behold Thee unveiled in Thy glory.