Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in New York City, USA. They were not Catholics but Episcopalian. Her father, Richard Bayley, was a well-known doctor and her mother, Catherine, died when Elizabeth was just three years old.
As a teenager, she did many things to help poor people. When Elizabeth was nineteen she married William Magee Seton, a rich merchant who owned a fleet of ships. Elizabeth, William, and their five children had a happy life together.
But ten years later, William lost his fortune and his good health within a short time. His wife heard that the weather in Italy might help him get better. Elizabeth, William, and their oldest daughter, Anna, traveled there by ship. But William did not get better and finally died of tuberculosis.
Elizabeth and Anna remained in Italy as guests of the Filicchi family. The Filicchis were very kind and tried to make Elizabeth and Anna’s sorrow easier by sharing their own deep love for the Catholic faith. Elizabeth began to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
When she returned home to New York she decided to become a Catholic. Her family and friends did not understand. They were very upset, but she went ahead with courage. Elizabeth joined the Church on March 4, 1805.
To support her family and make sure her children received a proper education, Elizabeth opened a school in Boston and ran it like a religious community. A few years later, the archbishop invited Elizabeth to come and open a girls’ school in Baltimore.
It was there that Elizabeth decided to live as a sister. Many women came to join her, including her sister, sister-in-law and her own daughters, Anna and Catherine. They became the American Sisters of Charity and Elizabeth was given the title “Mother Seton.”
She started many Catholic schools and a few orphanages. She made plans for a hospital, which was opened after her death. Elizabeth loved to write, and she also translated some textbooks from French to English. But Elizabeth was loved most for her care of the poor and the sick. Mother Seton died on January 4, 1821, in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
If something should happen that changes our lives from happy to difficult, let us turn to God as Mother Seton did and ask for His help. God can help bring out our hidden talents and we are then able to do things we never dreamed possible.
Charity is the cornerstone of the all the virtues. If we are charitable like Saint Elizabeth we are sure of the favors of God – His merits. Let our loving be the judge and our mercy speaks in our behalf. We must win the heart of God and the hearts of men. But it is only possible when we love God first, serving Him and letting Him be known throughout the world. May Saint Elizabeth intercedes for us, that like her, we may attain the celestial bliss for all eternity.
O God, who have taught your Church to keep all the heavenly commandments by love of you as God and love of neighbor; grant that, practicing the works of charity after the example of blessed Elizabeth Ann, we may be worthy to be numbered among the blessed in your Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.