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St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (January 4)

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was born in New York City on August 28, 1774 of a prominent Episcopalian family. She lived during the early years of the American republic and became a foundress of the young American Catholic Church. On January 25, 1794 at the age of nineteen, she married William Seton, a successful New York businessman. Their life together was lively and happy and five children were born of their union. When her husband's health began to fail the winter of 1803, Elizabeth and her young daughter, Anna, left for the warmer climate of Italy to stay with the Filicchi family, with whom they had become friendly through business affairs. Unfortunately, upon arrival in Italy they were immediately quarantined in damp, isolated quarters because of a threat of plague. William Seton died there on December 27, 1803. The young widow and her daughter made their home with the devotedly Catholic Filicchis. Elizabeth was drawn to the Catholic Church by experiencing the faith of this family and the practices of the
people, especially their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She returned to New York in May of 1804 and became a Catholic on March 14, 1805. As a new convert, she was enthusiastic and was encouraged to open the first American Catholic School in Baltimore. In 1809 she established a religious community of women, the Sisters of Charity, in Emmitsburg, Maryland (and locally we have members of her order at Seton Hill College in Greensburg). She is the first native-born North American to be canonized.