Biography of Saint Elizabeth Bayley Seton
About Saint Elizabeth Bayley Seton, biography and history of the American saint.
ST. ELIZABETH BAYLEY SETON (1774-1821)
Cause. Of wealthy Colonial stock and a distinguished family background, her decision to convert after she was left a widow with 5 children was met with derision and opposition by her Episcopal family and friends. But, aided by her faith, she soon adopted a religious habit and received the title "Mother."
In 1809, she, along with her novitiates, moved to Emmitsburg, Md., founding the American Sisters of Charity. While there she laid the foundation of the American parochial school system, introducing the 1st completely free parochial school, including a free lunch. She visited the sick and poor of the neighborhood, converting many, principally Negroes. She and her sisters also founded orphanages in Philadelphia and New York City.
Nomination. She was proposed for sainthood in the 1880s, declared "Venerable" in 1959, and beatified in 1963. Celebrating her beatification, the late Francis Cardinal Spellman declared: "She was not a mystical person in an unattainable niche. She battled against odds in the trials of life with American stamina and cheerfulness; she worked and succeeded with American efficiency." In the decade that followed, only one factor kept her from being canonized. Usually, 4 miracles are required for Sainthood, and Mother Seton had only 2.
Present Stage. At last, Pope Paul VI waived the requirement of 4 miracles, and announced satisfaction with one of the miracles attributed to Mother Seton. This miracle occurred in 1963 when a New York construction worker, near death from a form of meningitis, prayed to her, touched his body with one of her relics, and recovered his health. On September 14, 1975, Mother Seton became the 1st native-born American to be canonized as a saint. (Mother Cabrini, canonized in 1946, was a naturalized American who had been born in Italy.)
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