Nearly 200 years ago, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton founded the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's, the first new community for religious women to be established in the United States. She also began Saint Joseph's Academy and Free School, the first free Catholic School for girls staffed by Sisters in the United States. Her enduring legacy now includes six religious communities with more than 5,000 members, hundreds of schools, social service centers, and hospitals throughout America and around the world. Her works led to her Canonization on Sunday, September 14, 1975, in Saint Peter's Square, by Pope Paul VI. The first citizen born in the United States to be Canonized, her remains are entombed here in the Basilica that bears her name.
The remarkable life of Elizabeth Ann Seton spans the full spectrum of human experience. She was a New York socialite, a devoted wife, a dedicated volunteer in charitable organizations, the mother of five children, a convert to Roman Catholicism, an educator, social minister, and catechist, and a spiritual leader and formator ó a tireless servant of God. Her story is instrumental to understanding her ongoing legacy and enhancing your visit to the Shrine. Click through the sections to learn more about her.