Seton, Elizabeth Ann
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Time Period
8/28/1774  - 1/4/1821
Description
Following her husband’s death, Elizabeth Seton converted to Catholicism under the guidance of Baltimore Archbishop John Carroll in 1805, also leading her sisters-in-law and her children to the Catholic Church. She took religious vows in 1809 and thereafter founded a religious order in Emmitsburg, Maryland, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, which received official approval in 1812. The Sisters of Charity was the first Catholic order founded in the United States. Seton and her sisters founded several Catholic women’s academies, which inspired the establishment of similar schools across the nation, many of which attracted non-Catholic students. Due to her educational work, she has been described as the "foundress of the parochial school system in the United States."

Mother Seton died of tuberculosis in 1821. Her canonization by Pope Paul VI in 1975 made her the first Catholic saint born in the United States.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Women and Religion
Catholic Religious Events and People in American History
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Women and Religion in American History
Catholic Religious Events and People in American History
Narrative
Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in New York City in 1774 to a prominent Episcopalian family. Bayley was educated in a women’s academy in New Rochelle, New York, and married William Magee Seton in 1794. She was active in New York’s benevolent and moral reform circles, particularly in the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children, which she co-founded in 1797.

Following her husband’s death, Elizabeth Seton converted to Catholicism under the guidance of Baltimore Archbishop John Carroll in 1805, also leading her sisters-in-law and her children to the Catholic Church. She took religious vows in 1809 and thereafter founded a religious order in Emmitsburg, Maryland, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, which received official approval in 1812. The Sisters of Charity was the first Catholic order founded in the United States. Seton and her sisters founded several Catholic women’s academies, which inspired the establishment of similar schools across the across, many of which attracted non-Catholic students. Due to her educational work, she has been described as the “foundress of the parochial school system in the United States.”

Mother Seton died of tuberculosis in 1821. Her canonization by Pope Paul VI in 1975 made her the first Catholic saint born in the United States.
Religious Groups
Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Other ARDA Links

Photographs

Elizabeth Seton portrait- Internet Archive- from Life of Mrs. Eliza A. Seton by Charles I. White

Elizabeth Seton stained glass- Flickr- photo by Justin Mazza (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Elizabeth Seton stained glass window- Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Lamb Studios Archive

Elizabeth Seton statue- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Jim Henderson
Book/Journal Source(s)
Boylan, Anne M., 2002. The Origins of Women's Activism: New York and Boston, 1797-1840. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.
Dolan, Jay P., 1985. The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Web Source(s)
http://www.setonheritage.org/
The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Web Page Contributor
William S. Cossen
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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