An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Married Saints: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

The basics:

  • Born in New York City on August 28, 1774
  • Married in 1794 to William Magee Seton
  • Mother of five children
  • Widowed in 1803
  • Founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s in 1809
  • Died in Emmitsburg, MD on January 4, 1821
  • Feast day: January 4

Read St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s whole story in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Read Pope Paul VI’s homily at St. Elizabeth’s canonization in 1975.

“Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is an American. All of us say this with spiritual joy, and with the intention of honoring the land and the nation from which she marvellously [sic] sprang forth as the first flower in the calendar of saints…Rejoice, we say to the great nation of the United States of America. Rejoice for your glorious daughter! Be proud of her. And know how to preserve her fruitful heritage.” – Pope Paul VI


  • St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first American-born person to be canonized.
  • After being raised in a devout Episcopalian family, St. Elizabeth encountered the Catholic faith during a trip to Italy with her ailing husband and eldest daughter. Returning to the U.S. as a thirty-year-old widow, she entered the Catholic Church on Ash Wednesday, March 14, 1805.
  • St. Elizabeth is buried next to her nephew, James Roosevelt Bayley, who also converted to the Catholic faith and served as the eighth archbishop of Baltimore.

Quotes from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:

“What was the first rule of our dear Savior’s life? You know it was to do His Father’s will. Well, then, the first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly to do it in the manner He wills; and thirdly, to do it because it is His will. I know what is His will by those who direct me; whatever they bid me do, if it is ever so small in itself, is the will of God for me. Then, do it in the manner He wills it.”

“We must pray literally without ceasing – without ceasing – in every occurrence and employment of our lives…that prayer of the heart which is independent of place or situation, or which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant communication with Him.”

“Be children of the Church.” – words spoken by St. Elizabeth on her deathbed

Pilgrimage sites:

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, wife, mother, and widow, pray for us!

About this series:

On the Marriage: Unique for a Reason blog, we’ll be highlighting from time to time married saints and blesseds, that is, those men and women whom the Church holds up to us as exemplary models of the Christian life. The saints teach us what holiness looks like (see the Catechism, no. 2030). Married saints, then, teach us what holiness looks like as a married person. On a website dedicated to teaching the authentic meaning of marriage, it is only fitting to look to those who have lived the authentic meaning of marriage. They are the “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before us and who inspire us to “persevere in running the race that lies before us” (Heb. 12:1).

“The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church’s history.” – Bl. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, no. 16

Learn about other married blesseds and saints here.


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