January 4

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Early Life

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was born in New York on August 28th, 1774.She was the second child of her parents. When Elizabeth’s mother diedafter giving birth to her third child, her stepmother often tookElizabeth along with her for charitable rounds. They visited the poorfrequently and offered them food and other necessities.

Despite having a high social background, Elizabeth led a simple, quietlife. As she got a bit older, the Bible became her regular source ofcomfort, instruction, and guidance.

Marriage and Loss

In 1794, Elizabeth married William Seton. The first years of theirmarriage were blissful and full of good fortune. However, the bliss wasabruptly cut short by a string of deaths and partings of loved ones.

Her father was the first to go, leaving the young couple alone to carefor the family and its business. Then, her husband fell ill and hisbusiness failed. He had to file a bankruptcy petition and as a finalmove to save William’s health, the couple left for Italy, where they hadfriends.

Sadly, William passed away in Italy from tuberculosis. The soleconsolation Elizabeth held on to was that her beloved had found God justbefore his death.

Call to Dedication and Devotion

These numerous losses due to death and distance drew Elizabeth closer toGod. The acquiescing and acceptance of God’s Will would become anessential and defining theme in her spiritual life. In due course, herprofound concern for the spiritual wellbeing of her friends and familyled her to the Catholic Church in Italy. Over a period of months, shewas guided in the Catholic way by her Italian friends. Her courtesy,patience, and kindness endeared her to all.


In 1805, Elizabeth became an official member of the Catholic Church. Shefounded the first free catholic school in America with help from twowomen in her sisterhood, the Sisters of Charity. Then On March 25,1809, Elizabeth Seton took her vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty.From then henceforth, she was known as Mother Seton.

Even when she was stricken with tuberculosis, she kept on offeringguidance to her children. In 1812, ‘The Rule of the Sisterhood’ wasofficially ratified. It followed the same rule St. Vincent de Paul hadcomposed for his ‘Daughters of Charity’ in France.

By 1818, the sisters had established two orphanages and another schoolin addition to their first school. Today, there are six groups ofsisters that can trace their origins to the first sisterhood formed byMother Seton.

Death and Canonization

During the last three years of her life, Elizabeth was certain God wasgoing to call her home and this filled her with immense joy. MotherSeton passed away at the age of 46 on the 4th of January, 1821 inEmmitsburg, Maryland, United States. She is buried in the NationalShrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

She was beatified by Pope John XXIII on March 17, 1963, and canonized onSeptember 14, 1975, by Pope Paul VI.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

  1. Did you know the feast day of Mother Seton is January 4th which
    also coincides with the eleventh day of Christmastide as well as
    the anniversary of her death?
  2. While alive, Mother Seton’s favorite prayer was the 23rd Psalm.
  3. Did you know Saint Seton was inducted into the National Women’s
    Hall of Fame in 1979?
  4. Did you know there are churches named after St. Seton in over 40
    states of the United States, as well as in Canada and Italy?
  5. Mother Seton is known as the patron saint of widows and seafarers.

A Prayer for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Lord God, thank you for blessingSaint Elizabeth Ann Seton with great faith, hope, joy, and charity.I pray that her timeless example will guide me.I look at her humility to help me accept your will for my life.Let her grateful heart remind me to thank youfor the joys and challenges of life.May her courage and perseverance inspire meTo serve others, our church, and our country.Thank you, God, for Elizabeth Bayley Seton,a loving and glorious saint who is always by our side.Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us. Amen.