The first saint born in America, St. Elizabeth Bayley Seton was canonized by Pope Paul VI on Sept. 14, 1975. Her feast day is Jan. 4. She came from a well-off Episcopalian family that was part of New York high society. She was born in New York City in 1774 and died in Emmitsburg, Md. in 1821.

Elizabeth married William Seton in 1794. They were happy for a few years. However, her father-in-law died leaving the couple in charge of a large extended family. William went bankrupt and lost his health. The couple went to Italy to try to save him, but he died of tuberculosis. It was there in Italy that she witnessed the Catholic faith in action.

After moving back to America, Elizabeth converted to Catholicism in 1805. A widow now cut off from the support of many family and friends because of her conversion she started the first free Catholic school in the U.S. She founded the Sisters of Charity, the first American religious community for women. Although she was still raising her children she was elected Superior of the order and became Mother Seton in 1809. She started another school and two orphanages around Baltimore, but contracted tuberculosis and died at age 46. She is the patron of those who have lost parents.

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