Wednesday 4 January 2017

# Saints

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

January the 4th is the feast day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. She is the patron saint of Catholic Schools; Shreveport, Louisiana; and the State of Maryland.

Saint Elizabeth Seton is the first native born American to be canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church. Saint Elizabeth was born on August 28, 1774, 2 years before the American Revolution and grew up in the upper class of New York society. She read widely from the Bible to contemporary novels. Elizabeth's early life was simple, quiet and lonely. As she grew older the Bible became her continual instruction and she continued to love the Scriptures for the rest of her life. Saint Elizabeth married a wealthy young man, named William Seton in 1794. Her first years of marriage was said to be happy and prosperous and she wrote in her diary "My own home at twenty-the world-that and heaven too-quite impossible." 

Williams' father died in four years of their marriage and the young couple had to take in charge William's 7 half brothers and sisters and his family's importing business. However, both William's business and health failed and he had to file for bankruptcy. The Setons sailed to Italy in an attempt to save William's health. William succumbed to tuberculosis while in Italy. 

During her time in Italy Elizabeth became drawn to the Catholic Faith. She felt great comfort that the Blessed Virgin was her mother, as she had lost her mother early in life. She thus asked the Blessed Virgin to help her guide to the True Faith and in 1805 she joined the Catholic Church. Saint Elizabeth started a school in Baltimore, Maryland at the suggestion of the president of Saint Mary's College of the same city. The school was initially secular but at the news of Saint Elizabeth's entrance to Catholicism, several girls left the school. Seton and 2 other young women started planning for Sisterhood and established the first free Catholic School in America. They adopted their rule making 
provisions for Elizabeth to raise her children. Saint Elizabeth Seton pronounced her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience on March 25, 1809 which was binding for one year. She was then called Mother Seton. The Rule was based on the Rule Saitn Vincent de Paul had written for the Daughters of Charity in France. 

The sisters established two orphanages and another school in addition to their first school, by 1818. The 23rd Psalm was her favourite prayer and she developed a deep devotion to the Holy Eucharist, the Sacred Scripture and the Virgin Mary.

Mother Seton died in 1821 at the age of 46, 16 years after becoming Catholic in Emmitsburg, Maryland, United States. She was canonized in September 14, 1975, by Pope Paul VI.