Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (August 28, 1774 – January 4, 1821) was an American religious leader and educator who founded the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's, the first American religious congregation of women. She is the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, which recognized her as a saint on September 14, 1975.
Born in New York City, Seton was the daughter of a prominent Episcopalian physician. She married William Magee Seton, a wealthy businessman, in 1794 and had five children. After her husband's death in 1803, she converted to Catholicism, which caused a rift with her family and friends.
In 1809, Seton founded the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland, to provide education and social services to the poor. The congregation grew quickly and established schools and orphanages in several states. Seton herself served as the congregation's superior until her death. She is known for her strong devotion to education and her commitment to serving the poor and marginalized. She is also recognized for her role in the development of the Catholic parochial school system in the United States.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patron saint of Catholic schools and of loss of parents. Her feast day is celebrated on January 4th.
Throughout her life, Saint Elizabeth had many health problems. In 1820, her health began to decline significantly and she suffered from tuberculosis. She died at Emmitsburg on January 4th, 1821, at the age of 46.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton's legacy lives on through the congregation of Sisters of Charity, which continues to operate schools and hospitals across the United States. Her beatification (the step before canonization) was on March 17th, 1963 by Pope John XXIII and was canonized on September 14th, 1975 by Pope Paul VI .