by Olivia Wyland ’19 (Seton House)
So, most of us know from religion class that Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first American-born person to be declared a saint by the Catholic Church. Big deal, right? Most of us will think not. Most people don’t know much beyond that single fact, making the wonderful Saint seem like a rather dry topic.
When I visited Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Shrine in Emmitsburg, Maryland, over the summer, my view of her turned 180 degrees. Being at her shrine and learning about her history and her works gave me a new level of respect for Mother Seton. Did you know that she traveled to Italy with her husband, William? While she was there in 1803, William passed away of tuberculosis, leaving her, a woman, alone in a strange country. This event was what drew her heart to God.
From that point in her life, at only 29 years old, Elizabeth Ann Seton went on to embrace and grow in her Catholicism. She established the first free Catholic school in America. Mother Seton and her Sisters later established two orphanages and another school. Those are some pretty cool accomplishments for a woman of 46 years old!
Today, a shrine in Emmitsburg, Maryland, honors here. The Basilica there houses an altar which sparkles with mosaics and several types of marble from around Europe. Trees are still standing from when St. Elizabeth Ann Seton walked there. Trinity High School continues to feel her presence, as the House System adopted the Seton name as one of the four Houses. Students in Seton House look up to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, embracing her qualities of kindness, patience, good sense, and dedication to the Catholic life.