Wednesday, January 4, 2017

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Today is the feast day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821). I don't customarily "celebrate" many saint's feasts, but Saint Elizabeth has always been close to my heart for several reasons: she's the first American-born saint to be canonized (recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church), she was a woman, and she was married. There's a large majority of male to female saints recognized by the Church, and most of those were unmarried (I tried to find the percentages, but couldn't find a reliable source, and it's getting late. Just trust me on this one).


Now, before you pick up your stones, I don't think the Catholic Church has any bias towards male saints. (After all, our most highly venerated saint was a married woman.) Nor do I have any reason to believe that there's a disproportionate amount of men or unmarried people in Heaven. Rather, I think that the road to sainthood for most women throughout history has not been one of notoriety. Rather, it has been a road of humble, persistent, and selfless service to family and community.


The Church canonizes saints for the sake of the living, that we have honorable role models to imitate. Elizabeth Ann Seton's story is quite inspiring.


As a girl she lost her mother and was rejected by her stepmother. She later married William Seton, a businessman, and they had five children in addition to raising William's seven orphaned half brothers and sisters. However, William went bankrupt and died of tuberculosis, leaving now impoverished Elizabeth to raise the children. Shortly after this she converted to Catholicism, to the chagrin of her family and friends, and later became a nun. As if she hadn't had enough of them, she devoted the rest of her life to children. As the foundress of the American Daughters of Charity, she helped establish several schools and orphanages.

(For a more comprehensive bio, click here.)


What I find most inspiring about this saint is her incredible mother's heart, even though she had grown up without her own mother. Truly, the woman must have had a deep love for all children. At the same time, she doesn't strike me as a meek and lowly, cowering woman. No, she was a well-read, cultured woman who used her God-given talents to serve, regardless of the tragic circumstances of her life. May we all do the same!

Random tidbits I found interesting:
  • She referred to her sister as her "soul friend" (I will now be thinking of my sister as my "soul friend!")
  • Among other things, she is the patron of in-law problems and opposition to church authority (talk about controversial!)

Tonight I'm drinking a Chocolate Milk Stout in her honor. Prost, Saint Elizabeth!



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