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Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton: Compassion and Willingness to Love God

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton’s most important element in her life was teaching young girls. The writer will explain to you how and why Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is such a saintly figure not only in their life but in many other peoples lives as well. One will be more able to have a true sense of the many different obstacles that Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton had to overcome to come to the realization that she wanted to devote the rest of her live to God.

The writer will focus on four main areas throughout. First, she will present a brief biography of Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton’s life as well as her many accomplishments. Then, there will be a discussion of her main thrust in her life of ministry, teaching. After that the writer will talk about the way in which the film, A Time for Miracles, portrays Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton as a saintly person and if the film does a good job at portraying her. Finally, the writer is going to take the time to discuss two different themes from Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton’s writings.

A variety of different sources will be used throughout the paper and these sources will help to enhance my knowledge of Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton. The film, A Time for Miracles, which was discussed earlier, will be one of main sources. Another source that will be used heavily is a book of Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton writings, entitled Elizabeth Seton: Selected Writings, along with a number of other sources that have been located to help to develop this research paper.


Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was born in New York City on August 28, 1774 to Dr. Richard Bayley and Catherin Charlton. Seton’s mother, Catherin Charlton, passed away when she was three years old and her father, Dr. Richard Bayley decided to remarry. Elizabeth’s stepmother was Charlotte Amelia Barclay. Seton mainly was educated by her father and the primary subjects that she studied were French and music. When Elizabeth was just nineteen she married William Magee Seton on January 25, 1794. William was a New York merchant at the time that he married Elizabeth. Elizabeth and William had five children, two boys and three girls, who were all devoted to both of their parents, but especially to their mother. Seton’s husband ended up falling ill and while on trip to Italy, in 1803, with their eldest daughter passed away. While still in Italy, planning on returning home to New York, Elizabeth stayed with the Filicchi family. It is here that Seton found herself wanting to convert to Roman Catholicism. After becoming Roman Catholic, on March 14, 1805, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton traveled to Baltimore because she had accepted a proposal to start a school for girls as well as found a community; this was presented to her by William Valentine DuBourg. The community that Seton ended up founding was called the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph. Elizabeth continued teaching young girls as well as starting many schools throughout the United States. She died on January 4, 1821. “On February 28, 1940, the Roman Congregation of Rites formally introduced her cause for canonization. On December 14, 1961, the validity of two miracles was confirmed, and on March 17, 1963, John XXIII beatified her” (Jones). Pope Paul VI declared her Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton on September 14, 1975.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Main Thrust in Her Life of Ministry:

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s main thrust during her life of ministry is definitely her aspiration to teach young girls, even when times can be tough. She truly had a passion and love for teaching and even if she were not asked to start a school for young girls by William Valentine DuBourg, Seton probably would have gone into teaching anyway after her husband’s death.

After she founded the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, Elizabeth as well as her fellow sisters taught a group of young girls in Baltimore, Maryland. However, eventually the school ended up too big and Seton requested that both the Saint Joseph’s School and the sisterhood be moved to Emmetsburg, Maryland. She was granted that opportunity and relocated everyone as soon as they were able to. Times were tough after the move to Emmetsburg, but eventually things ended up getting better for both the girls as well as the Sisters of Charity. During the hard times there were sisters that wanted to leave the sisterhood but some how in her amazing ability of convincing Seton was able to do just that.

Mother Seton as well her other Sisters of Charity wanted the schools that they were setting up to be free to any young girl who wanted to attend the school. “Elizabeth and her Sisters of Charity were among the pioneers in free Catholic education for girls predating the inauguration of the parochial school system in the second half of the 19th century” (Catholic Education). Going door to door to ask for extra food or money was one of the many ways that the Sisters of Charity along with Mother Seton were able to maintain a very stable education for the girls while making sure that it was at no cost to them to have to pay for. “Her desire to provide a free education for poor children required both flexibility and resourcefulness to cover expenses” (Catholic Education).

Though the schools that Elizabeth started were for young girls whose families were poor, eventually the diocese wanted her to allow any girls that would like to attend the school or whose families wanted them to attend their school to be allowed to do so. When asked, Mother Seton did not want to allow this, however she did agree to it because she wanted to be able to keep the schools running. She asked the families of the wealthier girls to pay for their girls to attend the school so that they would be able to afford more for all of the girls, rich or poor, who attended one of the schools that Elizabeth Ann Seton had started. Now of the families of the girls that attended Saint Joseph’s School were very well off while others were not in such good financial shape.

While the students were in their classes Elizabeth would go around to the different classes and see how both the students and the teachers were doing. “Elizabeth visited the classes, exercising the talent of smiling and caring, giving the look of encouragement or reproof, and in this way inspiring both the pupils and their teachers with a cheerful zeal in the performance of their respective duties” (Catholic Education). In this way she would help out the teachers or the students if they needed any assistance



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