St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

1774-1821

St. Elizabeth Ann SetonBorn into a wealthy and influential Episcopalian family and raised in the New York high society of the late 18th century, Elizabeth Ann Bayley married wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton, at age 19. About 10 years into their marriage, her husband’s business failed, and he died of tuberculosis soon after, leaving Elizabeth an impoverished widow with five small children. For years, Elizabeth had felt drawn to Catholicism and entered the Church in 1805, alienating many of her family and friends in the process. To support her children and ensure their proper education, she opened a school in Boston. Later, at the invitation of the archbishop of Baltimore, she established a Catholic girl’s school in Baltimore, thus beginning the parochial school system in America. To run the growing number of schools, she organized the Sisters of Charity in 1809, the first religious community for women founded in America. She died in 1821 and was canonized in 1965, becoming the first American-born saint.