“Mother Seton” was the name everyone knew her by when she died on January 4, 1821, in Emmitsburg, Maryland. A life full of surprises had led to that name.
Elizabeth was born in New York City on August 28, 1774. Her father, Richard Bayley, was a well-known doctor. Her mother, Catherine, died when Elizabeth was very young. Elizabeth was Episcopalian. As a teenager, she did many things to help poor people.
In 1794, Elizabeth married William Seton. He was a rich merchant who owned a fleet of ships. Elizabeth, William and their five children had a happy life together. But suddenly William lost his fortune and his good health within a short time. Elizabeth, his wife, heard that the weather in Italy might help him get better. Elizabeth, William and their oldest daughter, Anna, journeyed there by ship. But William died shortly after. Elizabeth and Anna remained in Italy as guests of the Filicchi family. The Filicchis were very kind. They tried to make Elizabeth and Anna’s sorrow easier by sharing their own deep love for the Catholic faith. Elizabeth returned home to New York convinced she would become a Catholic. Her family and friends did not understand. They were very upset, but she went ahead with courage. Elizabeth joined the Church on March 4, 1805.
A few years later, Elizabeth was asked to come and open a girls’ school in Baltimore. It was there that Elizabeth decided to live as a sister. Many women came to join her, including her sister and sister-in-law. Her own daughters, Anna and Catherine, also joined the group. They became the American Sisters of Charity and Elizabeth was given the title “Mother Seton.” Elizabeth became well-known. She started many Catholic schools and a few orphanages. She made plans for a hospital which was opened after her death. Elizabeth loved to write, and she also translated some textbooks from French to English. But she was most famous for the way she visited the poor and the sick.
Elizabeth was declared a saint by Pope Paul VI on September 14, 1975.
If something should happen that changes our lives from happy to difficult, let us turn to God as Mother Seton did and ask for help. God can help us see how hard things can bring out our hidden talents. Then we will accomplish what we never dreamed could happen with God's help.
Feast Day: January 4th