Welcome to my Saint of the Month for Moms series, where every month, I highlight a particular saint whose feast day is celebrated that month and who is uniquely suited to be a patron and intercessor for Catholic wives and moms. To kick off the series is our January 2024 saint of the month for moms: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Below you’ll find a brief bio of her life, a small reflection, and a list of resources and fun items if you want to learn more (or if you’re already a fan!). St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!
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St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in New York City on August 28, 1774 into an upper class Episcopalian family. Her mother, the daughter of an Anglican minister, died when Elizabeth was only three years old. Elizabeth got married at the age of 19, in an Episcopalian ceremony, to William Magee Seton, a successful businessman. The two had five children together and were married for nearly ten years before William died of tuberculosis in Italy in 1803. Elizabeth discovered the Catholic faith while in Italy, and in 1805, upon returning to New York, she converted to Catholicism (much to the dismay of her Protestant relatives and associates).
After several years of financial and familial difficulties, Elizabeth and her children moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 1808. There, she founded a school, as well as the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, which was the first women’s religious community founded in the United States. She based the congregation’s rule on the Rule of St. Vincent de Paul for his Daughters of Charity in France. Though she was still raising her children, she was elected superior, taking on the title of Mother Seton, and by 1813, their rule was ratified and she and eighteen other sisters professed vows. By 1818, Mother Seton and her sisters had started another school as well as two orphanages.
Elizabeth ultimately died of tuberculosis on January 4, 1821 at the age of 46. She was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1963, and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975. Her feast day is celebrated on January 4, and she is the patron saint of Catholic schools, widows, and the state of Maryland.
St. Elizabeth Ann lived out vocations to marriage, motherhood, and religious life – what a wonderful role model and intercessor we women have in her! She is also a great patroness for mothers who send their children to Catholic school, who homeschool, or who are themselves teachers particularly at Catholic schools (which I myself was for 5 years after college). I am also personally inspired, as an American, by the fact that she is the first native-born American saint ever canonized. Let’s turn to her for her intercession and guidance as we strive to be loving wives, good mothers, and women of deep faith.
Here are a few quotes from St. Elizabeth Ann to spur us on to greater holiness and deeper trust in God, even amidst the difficulties of life.
“Afflictions are the steps to heaven.”
“Go to him with faith, love and confidence – He will help. Fill yourself with his Spirit and He himself will govern.”
“Oh! If I did not see our Lord in all and trust it to Him, what an aching heart should I have. But not so, I look all the while to our purification, and then to our Eternity, so long – for love and enjoyment.”
“I resign the present and the future to Him who is the author and conductor of both.”
To Learn More
Books about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:
Modern Saints: Their Lives and Faces, Book 2 from TAN Books (features St. Elizabeth Ann Seton)
Saints Like Me: Great American Catholics from Catholic Sprouts (a board book that features St. Elizabeth Ann Seton)
Suggested Read: Top 9 Powerful Novenas for Catholics