||“We know certainly that our God
calls us to a holy life. We know that
he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves,
this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle & difficulty.”
Elizabeth's Episcopalian parents handed on to her their own faith. Her mother and stepmother taught her to pray and read Scripture. Her father, a doctor, taught her to love and serve the poor. As a young girl, Elizabeth took food to the poor near her home. At the age of nineteen Elizabeth married handsome William Seton, the son and business partner of the owner of a wealthy shipping firm. Will and Elizabeth were devoted to each other. They loved their five children—three girls and two boys.
Everything went well until 1803, when Will Seton's business went bankrupt and his health failed. The Filicchi family in Italy invited the Seton’s to recover there. The journey to Italy was rough. Due to the New York Epidemic, when they landed in Italy the police quarantined them in an old fort. If after six weeks they did not come down with the disease, they would be able to enter Italy. Will, already ill, had to lie in the cold, damp room. Elizabeth cared for him as well as she could, but a few weeks after they were freed, Will died.
The Filicchis, who were Catholic, helped Elizabeth. Finally, she realized that God was calling her and her children became Catholics. Because of their decision, her family and many friends turned against her, and she found herself on her own. To support herself and her children, she opened a Catholic boarding school for girls in Maryland. Women came to help Elizabeth, and the school grew. Elizabeth realized God was asking her to dedicate her life completely to him. She and the other women began a community of religious Sisters, who later became known as the Daughters of Charity.
Elizabeth raised her children. Her two sons entered the navy. Anna became a nun but died at an early age, as did Rebecca. Catherine became a Sister of Mercy and worked with those in prison.
- Patron Saint of Loss of Parents and Seafarers
- First American Saint, opened the first American Catholic parish school and orphanage
- Today thousands of Daughters of Charity carry on Mother Seton's work, serving in hospitals, elderly homes, & schools.
Website: Loyola Press http://loyolapress.com/saints.htm#