This date – January 4, 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the foundress of the Sisters of Charity and the first American-born to be canonized a saint. As the patroness of American Catholic Education and the Catholic University of New Jersey that bears her name we perpetually remember Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in various ways. Examples include of the naming of our Women’s Center in her honor along with a number of annual campus-wide ceremonies and commemorations along with the continual opportunity to learn more about her life and legacy through our associated historical texts and research collections.
The following capsulized biography of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton has been featured on the Seton Hall University Internet-based Homepage and provides a introduction to those who are not familiar with her notable background and life story . . .
“Elizabeth Bayley was born August 28, 1774 in New York City. Her father, Dr. Richard Bayley, was a prominent physician and surgeon and the first Health Officer in New York City. Her mother, Catherine Charlton Bayley, the daughter of an Episcopal minister, died May 8, 1777 leaving 3 children, Mary 7, Elizabeth, 2 years, 9 months, and an infant, Catherine, who died two years later. Dr. Richard Bayley died of yellow fever in 1801.
A year after his wife died, Dr. Richard Bayley married Charlotte Amelia Barclay. They had 4 children. Mary and Elizabeth spent their summers with their Uncle William Bayley at the Pell Bayley House in New Rochelle, New York.
Elizabeth Bayley married William Magee Seton, a wealthy shipping magnate on January 25, 1794. They had five children: Anna Maria (May 3, 1795); William (November 25, 1796); Richard (July 20, 1798); Catherine (June 28, 1800); and Rebecca (August 20, 1802).
William Magee Seton suffered major financial ruin and died of tuberculosis December 27, 1803 in Italy leaving Elizabeth a poor young widow with five small children.
Anna Marie, the eldest daughter, at 8 years of age, went to Italy with her parents where her ailing father died. She became affectionately called “Annina” by her mother. Anna Maria, as her father, died of tuberculosis March 12, 1812.
Elizabeth Seton, raised Episcopal, converted to Catholicism. She received her first Holy Communion in March 25, 1805. To raise and educated her own children, she became a teacher and wanted all children, boys and girls, to receive free education. At the Pace Street House in Baltimore she founded her first Catholic school.
On March 25, 1809 Elizabeth Seton pronounced vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Henceforth, she became known as Mother Seton. She began the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph on July 31, 1809 at the Stone House in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Mother Seton established St, Joseph’s Academy, the first Catholic parochial school in the United States.
Elizabeth Seton died of tuberculosis on January 4, 1821 at the age of 47. Her remains are sealed in the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
In September, 1975, Elizabeth Seton became the first American to be canonized as a Saint. Her banner hung over the entrance to St. Peter’s in Rome.”
Further detail on Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton can be found via resources found within the University Libraries and Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center. The following Library Guide entitled: “Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton & Family” provides a number of information links including book volumes found in the Library Collection, detailed Internet sources, and relevant primary source leads including those located within our ArchivesSpace catalog can be found via the links found below . . .
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton & Family (Library Guide) – https://library.shu.edu/st-elizabeth-ann-seton
Elizabeth Ann Seton (ArchivesSpace) – https://archivesspace-library.shu.edu/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&op%5B%5D=&q%5B%5D=elizabeth+ann+seton&commit=&field%5B%5D=&from_year%5B%5D=&to_year%5B%5D=
For more information and questions about Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton you can contact us via e-mail at: Archives@shu.edu or call: (973) 275-2378 to obtain further details. We wish everyone a Happy New Year ahead!