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Elizabeth Bayley Seton

Elizabeth Bayley was born August 28, 1774 in New York City. Her father, Dr. Richard Bayley, was a prominent physician and surgeon and the first Health Officer in New York City. Her mother, Catherine Charlton Bayley, the daughter of an Episocpal minister, died May 8, 1777 leaving 3 children, Mary 7, Elizabeth, 2 years, 9 months, and an infant, Catherine, who died two years later. Dr. Richard Bayley died of yellow fever in 1801.

A year after his wife died, Dr. Richard Bayley married Charlotte Amelia Barclay. They had 4 children. Mary and Elizabeth spent their summers with their Uncle William Bayley at the Pell Bayley House in New Rochelle, New York.

Elizabeth Bayley married William Magee Seton, a wealthy shipping magnate on January 25, 1794. They had five children: Anna Maria (May 3, 1795); William (November 25, 1796); Richard (July 20, 1798); Catherine (June 28, 1800); and Rebecca (August 20, 1802).

William Magee Seton suffered major financial ruin and died of tuberculosis December 27, 1803 in Italy leaving Elizabeth a poor young widow with five small children.

Anna Marie, the eldest daughter, at 8 years of age, went to Italy with her parents where her ailing father died. She became affectionately called Annina by her mother. Anna Maria, as her father, died of tuberculosis March 12, 1812.

Elizabeth Seton, raised Episcopal, converted to Catholicism. She received her first Holy Communion in March 25, 1805. To raise and educated her own children, she became a teacher and wanted all children, boys and girls, to receive free education. At the Pace Street House in Baltimore she founded her first Catholic school.

On March 25, 1809 Elizabeth Seton pronounced vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Henceforth, she became known as Mother Seton. She began the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph on July 31, 1809 at the Stone House in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Mother Seton established St, Joseph's Academy, the first Catholic parochial school in the United States.

Elizabeth Seton died of tuberculosis on January 4, 1821 at the age of 47. Her remains are sealed in the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

In September, 1975, Elizabeth Seton became the first American to be canonized as a Saint. Her banner hung over the entrance to St. Peter's in Rome.

 


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