Saint Elizabeth was born Elizabeth Ann Bayley in New York City on Aug. 28, 1774. She was one of two daughters of a physician father.
In her early adulthood, all she dreamed of was a handsome husband with whom to raise a pretty family. Her dream came true when she met and married William Seton. In their early days of marriage, the couple lived in a house on Wall Street from where William took care of his family’s shipping business while Elizabeth gave birth to two children. Her misfortunes started when William fell ill, and his father died. The couple was soon bankrupt, and Elizabeth moved back in with her father. Unfortunately, her father died too, a death that devastated Elizabeth.
Soon after, Elizabeth sailed with her husband and eldest daughter to Italy, where William succumbed to his illness. Elizabeth attended the Catholic churches in Italy. She became convinced that she needed to convert to the Catholic faith. When she went back home, she converted, and soon her sister-in-aw joined her in the faith.
Together, they started the first Sisters of Charity community in the United States. By the time of Elizabeth’s death on Jan. 4, 1821, there were more than 20 communities of Sisters of Charity running free schools, hospitals and orphanages. In 1975, Pope Paul VI canonized Elizabeth the first American-born saint.