Even in today’s society (maybe ESPECIALLY is a better word), it’s a pretty big deal to be “the first,” of something. People make a huge deal of being the first this, the first that, etc. It’s also, in my (and I’m sure yours, dear reader) opinion, a pretty big deal to be canonized a saint. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first saint to have been canonized in the United States, double whammy!
St. Elizabeth was born two years before the American Revolutionary War, to a wealthy family in New York. She was a voracious reader, and loved to read everything from the Bible to novels. St. Elizabeth was married in 1974, to William Seton, and she was deeply in love with him. Their first year of marriage was bliss, she often wrote about how happy they were and how lucky she felt. This happiness was cut devastatingly short. Within four years, William’s father died and that left them with William’s seven siblings, as well as the family business. Within a short period of time, Williams health and the business failed. He filed bankruptcy, and in a last-ditch effort, the family moved to Italy where William had business contacts. Unfortunately, William died of Tuburculosis while in Italy, but this didn’t cause Elizabeth to despair.
The many forced and abrupt separations from dear ones by death served to draw Elizabeth's heart to God. Elizabeth’s deep concern for the spiritual welfare of her family and friends eventually led her into the Catholic Church. In Italy, Elizabeth captivated everyone by her kindness, patience, good sense, wit, and courtesy. During this time Elizabeth became interested in the Catholic Faith and, over a period of months, her Italian friends guided her in Catholic instruction. Having lost her mother at an early age, Elizabeth felt great comfort in the idea that the Blessed Virgin was truly her mother. She asked the Blessed Virgin to guide her to the True Faith and officially joined the Catholic Church in 1805. Elizabeth truly felt what Christ meant, when He gave us mama Mary for our spiritual mother! My own mother and I have a really close relationship, but its like having a bonus mama in Mary.
Elizabeth moved back to the United States, and at the suggestion of the he president of St. Mary's College in Baltimore, Maryland, Elizabeth started a school in that city. The school had originally been non-religious, but once news of her entrance to Catholicism spread, several girls were removed from her school. It was then that St. Elizabeth and two other women began plans for a Sisterhood. They established the first free Catholic school in America. St. Elizabeth took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and was known during that time as Mother Seton.
Although St Elizabeth came down with tuberculosis, she continued to guide her children. The Rule of the Sisterhood was formally ratified in 1812. It was based upon the Rule St. Vincent de Paul had written for his Daughters of Charity in France. By 1818, in addition to their first school, the sisters had established two orphanages and a third school. Today, six groups of sisters can trace their origins to Mother Seton's initial foundation. For the last three years of her life, Elizabeth felt that God was getting ready to call her, and in her courage she felt joy rather than fright at the thought of death. She died in 1821 at the age of 46, only sixteen years after becoming a Catholic. She was beatified by Pope John XXIII on March 17, 1963 and was canonized on September 14, 1975 by Pope Paul VI.
St. Elizabeth is the patron saint of in-law problems, against the death of children, widows, death of parents, and opposition of Church authorities
Reflect: Is God calling you to something new today? How has he called you in the past?
Act: How will you respond to God's call in your life? Despite how you are feeling right now ?