Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton

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Elizabeth Ann Seaton (Bayley)

Birthdate: (46)
Birthplace: New York New York County (Manhattan) New York, USA
Death: January 4, 1821 (46)
Emmitsburg Frederick County Maryland, USA (tuberculosis)
Place of Burial: National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Emmitsburg Frederick County Maryland, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Richard Bayley, Dr. and Catherine Charlton
Wife of William Magee Seton
Mother of Anna Maria Seton; William Seton; Richard Bayley Seton; Catherine Josephine Seton and Rebecca Seton
Half sister of Helen Bayley; Mary Fitch Bayley and Guy Carleton Bayley

Occupation: The First Catholic Saint of the United States of America
Managed by: Stanley Welsh Duke, Jr.
Last Updated:

About Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton

Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (August 28, 1774 – January 4, 1821) was the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Elizabeth was able to establish a religious community in Emmitsburg, Maryland dedicated to the care of the children of the poor. It was the first religious community of non-cloistered Religious Sisters to be founded in the United States, and its school was the first free Catholic school in America. The order was called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph.

The remainder of Elizabeth's life was spent in leading and developing the new congregation. Today, six separate religious communities trace their roots to the humble beginnings of the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In addition to the original community of Sisters at Emmitsburg (though now part of an older institute), they are based in New York City, Cincinnati, Ohio, Halifax, N.S., Convent Station, New Jersey and Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

On December 18, 1959, Elizabeth was declared Venerable by the Sacred Congregation of Rites of the Catholic Church. She was beatified by Pope John XXIII on March 17, 1963, and canonized by Pope Paul VI on September 14, 1975, making her the first native-born United States citizen to be canonized. Her feast day is January 4.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is popularly considered a patron saint of Catholic schools. Her name appears on the front two doors of St. Patrick's Cathedral, as a "Daughter of New York". The National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, is open to the public. In addition, in New York City, the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Our Lady of the Holy Rosary's Church was built on the site of her home in Manhattan, and is accessible to the public.[2] She had many schools named after her.

The Mother Seton House at Baltimore, Maryland was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.[3] The house had been offered as an inducement to Elizabeth Seton to come to Baltimore in 1808 and there to found a school and occupy the then newly completed house.[4] It is now operated as a museum by St. Mary’s Seminary.

In 2009, she was added to the Calendar of Saints for the Episcopal Church (United States) with a minor feast day on January 4.

St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Raleigh, North Carolina has a relic of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton inside the main altar.

cannonized 1975



Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, known as "Mother Seton," is special to all Americans for historical, humanitarian and spiritual reasons. Though born in the New York City area, she lived in Maryland from 1809 until her death. Elizabeth Ann Seton was widowed at the age of 29 and left to care for her five children alone. Her late husband's shipping business had been unstable, and money was scarce. In order to support her family, she attempted to establish a school but met with little success. To the dismay of her friends and relatives, she converted to the Catholic faith. With encouragement and assistance from John Carroll, the first Catholic Bishop of Baltimore, Seton came to Baltimore and established the first free school for girls in 1808. This school, which was the forerunner of the Catholic school system, soon outgrew its original location on Paca Street and moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1809. Also in 1809, Seton founded the first American religious order for women known as the Sisters of Charity. This religious order, later evolved into the Daughters and Sisters of Charity. The order grew throughout the United States and expanded into several foreign countries. Beginning in 1814, Mother Seton and her religious daughters established schools, orphanages and hospitals throughout the world.

On September 14, 1975, Pope Paul VI proclaimed, "Elizabeth Ann Seton is a Saint," making her the first native born American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is located in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 1986.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2001


Birth: Aug. 28, 1774 New York New York County (Manhattan) New York, USA Death: Jan. 4, 1821 Emmitsburg Frederick County Maryland, USA

Roman Catholic Religious Leader. When she was canonized in 1975 by Pope Paul VI, she was the first native-born United States Citizen to be made a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church. She was born in New York City and given the name Elizabeth Ann, two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to Doctor Richard and Catherine Bayley, both devout Episcopalians. At the age of nineteen she was married to a prosperous merchant, William Seton. The marriage produced five children. The Setons were soon bankrupt, followed by the death of William with tuberculosis after a long sea voyage to Italy. She found herself a widow in a foreign country. Upon her return, Elizabeth converted to the Catholic faith and took up teaching in order to support her family. Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore invited her to establish a school for girls in his diocese. Other young women joined her and they formed a religious community, The Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's. In 1809 they set up a school in Emmitsburg, Maryland where she was referred to as Mother Seton. Along with the members of her order, her family also lived at the newly formed convent and school. Stricken with tuberculosis, death claimed her life at the young age of 46. She was buried on the property. Both of her sons were at sea at the time of her death and burial. When they returned six months later, they gave a substantial donation for the building of a mortuary chapel. Upon completion in 1846, Mother Seton was transferred to it. At the time of her beatification in March 1963, she was exhumed and her remains were placed in a small copper casket and enshrined above the altar in St. Joseph's College Chapel. Five years later a special shrine was built in 1965 in anticipation of her canonization at St. Joseph's Provincial House of the Daughters of Charity at Emmitsburg, Maryland. Her remains were transferred and now rest beneath the altar. In 1975 when she was proclaimed a saint during ceremonies at Vatican City before some 15,000 Americans, she left an enormous legacy. She founded the first parochial school in America and at the same time the first Catholic order of nuns in the United States which at the time of the canonization numbered over 8,000 sisters in six communities on three continents. Perhaps more as testament to modern times than to the durability of Mother Seton, the school she founded in Emmitsburg, Maryland was forced to close in 1973. The four-year college which at one time also featured an elementary and secondary school, was a victim of hard times. (Bio by John R. Mark)

Family links:

 Richard Bayley (1744 - 1801)
 Catherine Charlton Bayley (1746 - 1777)

 William Magee Seton (1768 - 1803)*

 Annina Seton (1795 - 1812)*
 William Seton (1796 - 1868)*
 Richard Bayley Seton (1798 - 1823)*
 Mary Catherine Seton (1800 - 1891)*
 Rebecca Seton (1802 - 1816)*

 Mary Magdalene Bayley Post (1768 - 1856)*
 Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (1774 - 1821)
 Catherine Bayley (1777 - 1778)*
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Burial: National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Emmitsburg Frederick County Maryland, USA

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Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Jan 01, 2001 Find A Grave Memorial# 943

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton's Timeline

August 28, 1774
New York New York County (Manhattan) New York, USA
Age 20
November 25, 1796
Age 22
Age 23
Age 25
Age 27
January 4, 1821
Age 46
Emmitsburg Frederick County Maryland, USA
January 4, 1821
Age 46
National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Emmitsburg Frederick County Maryland, USA