Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton; Mother Seton
August 28, 1774 - January 4, 1821
Name Meaning ~ Worshipper of God
Elizabeth was Born August 28, 1774 in New York City. She was born into a wealthy and influential
Episcopalian family. She was the daughter of a physician, and was raised in the New York high
society of the late 18th century. Her mother died when Elizabeth was three years old. She
married the wealthy businessman William Magee Seton at age 19, and was the mother of five.
About ten years into the marriage, William's business failed, and soon after he died of
tuberculosis, leaving Elizabeth an impoverished widow with five small children. For years
Elizabeth had felt drawn to Catholicism, believing in the Real Presence in the Eucharist and in
the lineage of the Church going back to Christ and the Apostles. She converted to Catholicism,
entering the Church on March 14, 1805.
To support her family, and insure the proper education of her children, she opened a school in
Boston. Though a private and secular institution, from the beginning she ran it along the lines
of a religious community. At the invitation of the archbishop, she established a Catholic girl's
school in Baltimore, Maryland which initiated the parochial school system in America. To run the
system she founded the Sisters of Charity in 1809, the first native American religious community
Patron Saint of:
death of children; in-law problems; loss of parents; opposition of Church authorities; people
ridiculed for their piety.