Elizabeth Ann Seton
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton - wife, mother, widow, convert, religious foundress, saint - was born in New York City, August 28,1774. She was the daughter of Dr. Richard Bayley and Catherine Charlton Bayley, devout Episcopalians.
At nineteen, Elizabeth married William Magee Seton, a prosperous merchant. Five children were born of the marriage. By 1803, the Seton shipping firm became bankrupt and William's health failed After a long sea voyage which it was hoped would improve his health, he died in Italy on December 27, 1803. The Filicchi family, longtime friends of William Seton, continued to befriend Elizabeth and welcomed her into their home in Leghorn. Here Elizabeth encountered Roman Catholicism for the first time.
Elizabeth returned to New York in 1804 and, despite the opposition of family and friends, entered the Catholic church in the spring of 1805. She sought to support her family by teaching. Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore invited her to establish a school for girls in his diocese. Other young women joined her in this ministry of education and eventually they formed a religious community, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's. In 1809, they moved to Emmitsburg where Elizabeth Ann Seton lived with her growing community until her death in 1821.
The rule of the Daughters of Charity in France, a congregation founded
by St. Vincent dePaul in 1633 seemed applicable to the new community. Adaptations
to this rule were made by Archbishop Carroll and by Elizabeth Seton, to
suit the American situation and a foundress with a family. It became the
rule of the Sisters of Charity who by the time of Elizabeth's death in
1821 were fifty in number.