Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton

August 28, 1774 – January 4, 1821

Feast day: January 4

Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first American to be canonized. She was raised Anglican, but later converted to Catholicism.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born on August 28, 1774 in New York City, Province of New York, British America. Elizabeth was the daughter of Dr. Richard Bayley, a physician, and Catherine Charlton. The Bayley family was a professed member of the Anglican Church and a socially prominent New York City couple. The Bayley and Charlton families were among the first European settlers in the New York area.

The early deaths of her mother in 1777 and her little sister in 1778 gave Elizabeth a sense of the eternity and transience of pilgrim life on earth. Instead of being gloomy and gloomy, she faced each new "holocaust," as she put it, with hopeful cheerfulness.

She founded the first Catholic girls' school in the country in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she also founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.

On January 25, 1794, at the age of 19, Elizabeth married William Magee Seton, aged 25, a wealthy businessman in the import trade. Samuel Provoost, the first bishop of New York, presided over their wedding.

She was a pioneer of Catholic education and faced much opposition from her own Episcopal family and within the predominantly Protestant community. She also lost two of her daughters. She herself died of tuberculosis on January 4, 1821 in Emmitsburg, Maryland, United States of America. She was only 46 years old.

After her death, her body was interred in the National Shrine of H. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, which is a religious as well as an educational center and whose church has been elevated to a basilica. The Sisters of Mercy has expanded throughout North America and is even active in the Philippines.

Elizabeth was beatified on March 17, 1963, by Pope John XXIII, and canonized on September 14, 1975, by Pope Paul VI. The Sisters of Mercy is the largest existing sister congregation in the United States, and Elizabeth is the patron saint of Catholic schools, widows, and sailors in America (because she always prayed for her husband and two of her sons who sailed a lot at sea). It can be invoked on the death of children and on those who are mocked for their piety.

She is the patron saint of Catholic schools, seafarers, widows, Shreveport, Louisiana and the State of Maryland.