The Heroines

Elizabeth Ann Seton

is honored with a Medium Paver from the St. Paul Parish/Newman Center.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Born in New York City on August 27, she was the daughter of Richard Bayley, professor of anatomy at King's College (now Columbia) in New York and the stepsister of Archbishop James Roosevelt Bayley of Baltimore. One of her descendants was to become Governor of New York and then President of the United States -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She was educated by her father, and in 1794, married William Magee Seton. She became involved in social work, helping to found the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children in 1797.

She was widowed with five children in 1803 when her husband died at Leghorn, Italy, where they had gone for his health. She returned to the United States and became a Roman Catholic in 1805.

She was invited to open a school in Baltimore by Dr. Dubourg, rector of St. Mary's Seminary there. In 1809, with four companions, she founded the first American religious society, the Sisters of St. Joseph (later to be changed to Sisters of Charity), and a school for poor children near Emmitsburg, Maryland. This was the beginning of the far-reaching Catholic parochial school system in the United States.

After the new community was approved by Archbishop Carroll of Baltimore in 1812, Elizabeth Ann Seton was elected superior. Along with 18 sisters, Elizabeth took vows on July 19, 1813. The order spread throughout the United States and numbered some twenty communities by the time of her death at Emmitsburg on January 4.

She was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975, the first American-born saint.

August 10, 1999