American Women!
A Celebration of Our History
April 22 -- October 29, 2000

Educator and Saint



Although born into a wealthy New York family, Elizabeth Bayley Seton experienced frequent tragedy. By the time she was 29 years old, she had suffered the deaths of her sister, both of her parents, and her beloved husband. By 1803, Seton was a poor widow with five small children and no means of support.

Religious faith would sustain her through these tragedies. Seton believed that God had a plan for her. Although she had been raised Episcopalian, she converted to Catholicism in 1805, an act that cut her off from her family. To support herself, she opened a school for girls, first in New York City and later in Baltimore.

But Seton believed that she had a more important calling. In 1809, she founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph and became the mother superior of the order. For the rest of her life, Mother Seton devoted herself to the education of Catholic children and is generally considered the founder of the parochial education movement. In 1976, she was canonized as the first Catholic saint born in America.


Historic Artifacts:

PORTRAIT of Elizabeth Bayley at age 18 or 19, copied from a small miniature
FAN that belonged to Elizabeth Seton
LOCKS of HAIR of Seton's children
LETTERS from Elizabeth to her husband, 1794
CRUCIFIX in Seton's room
PORTRAIT of Seton in a religious habit
-- On loan from the Daughters of Charity, Emmitsburg Province, Emmitsburg MD

-- On loan from the Sisters of Charity of New York, Bronx NY

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