Did you know... that Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American canonized by the Roman Catholic church, was a native of Lower Manhattan?
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was born Elizabeth Ann Bayley to a wealthy Episcopalian family on August 28, 1774, in Lower Manhattan. At the age of 19, she married William Magee Seton in Trinity Church, and soon gave birth to the first of her six children. After her husband died during an visit to Italy in 1803, Elizabeth -- a religious person since childhood -- turned to the teachings of the Roman Catholic church. Although baptized a Protestant, Seton returned to New York City the following spring a devout Catholic, and was formally received by the church on March 14, 1805.
Struggling to support her family, Seton opened a Catholic school in Maryland and founded what would become the American Catholic free parochial school system. While in Maryland, she also founded a religious order, the Sisters of Charity, taking her vows on July 2, 1809. Before her death in 1821, Mother Seton would establish the first American orphanage in Philadelphia and the first Catholic American Hospital. Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., was founded in 1856 by her nephew, Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, who named the school in her honor.
Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized by Pope Paul VI on September 14, 1975, making her the first American-born saint. Today, the Sisters of Charity carry on her work at the St. Patrick Elementary School on Mott Street. A shrine to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is located in her former Battery Park home, Our Lady of the Rosary, on State Street.