Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774–1821)

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774–1821)

Patron saint of loss of parents

Feast day: January 4

Elizabeth Ann Seton is a great American saint who was born wealthy but found her happiness in serving the poor. She was born in New York City into a wealthy Episcopal family. She was homeschooled by her father and read voraciously. At the age of 19, she married the wealthy merchant William Magee Seton and they had five children. With her soul mate and sister-in-law Rebecca Seton, she went about doing works of mercy. In 1797 she founded the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Children. Six years later her husband died.

Attracted to the Catholic faith, she became a Catholic in 1805, facing rejection by her family. Encouraged by Archbishop Carroll of Baltimore, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton founded the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph at Emmitsburg, Maryland, whose priority was to serve poor people in works of charity and through Catholic education.

She is credited with founding the first Catholic school and the first orphanage in the United States. She was canonized in 1975, making her the first saint born in the United States. We can be inspired by her life to reach out to those in need and experience the joy of serving Christ in the process. (From The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Third Edition [Saint Mary’s Press])

(Image © Vicki Shuck/Saint Mary's Press)