Biography of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

“Elizabeth Ann Seton is a saint. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is an American. All of us say this with special joy, and with the intention of honoring the land and the nation from which she sprang forth as the first flower in the calendar of the saints. Elizabeth Ann Seton was wholly American! Rejoice for your glorious daughter. Be proud of her. And know how to preserve her fruitful heritage.” –Pope Paul VI

Two hundred years ago, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, the first new community for religious women to be established in the United States. She also began St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School, the first free Catholic School for girls staffed by Sisters in the United States. Her enduring legacy now includes six religious communities with more than 5,000 members, hundreds of schools, social service centers, and hospitals throughout America and around the world. She was canonized on Sunday, September 14, 1975 in St. Peter’s Square by Pope Paul VI. The first citizen born in the United States to be raised to the altars, her remains are entombed here in the Basilica that bears her name.

The remarkable life of Elizabeth Ann Seton spans the full spectrum of human experience. She was a New York socialite, a devoted wife, a dedicated volunteer in charitable organizations, the mother of five children, a convert to Roman Catholicism, an educator, friend of the poor, catechist—a tireless servant of God. Her story is instrumental to understanding her ongoing legacy and enhancing your pilgrimage to the Shrine. Click through the sections on the right to learn more about her.

We offer additional resources to learn more about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in the Seton Heritage Shoppe, such as the exclusive book called Friendship of My Soul that offers an intimate look at her spirituality. She responded to God’s call – living her vocation fully!