Elizabeth Ann Seton: Prayers, Quotes, Feast Day, Patronage and More

A portrait of Elizabeth Ann Seton over an orange background.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – Table of Contents


  • Birth: August 28, 1774
  • Location: New York City
  • Death: January 4, 1821
  • Beatification: March 17, 1963 by Pope John XXIII
  • Canonized: September 14, 1975 by Pope Paul VI
  • Feast Day: January 4th
  • Patron Saint of: Catholic schools, widows, and seafarers

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is one of the first native-born saints from the United States of America. She was born in New York City in 1774 and raised in the Episcopal faith.

She married a wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton, and they had five children together. They moved to Italy, where her husband William became incredibly ill and was tormented by visions. They set off to Italy because of the yellow fever epidemic that was plaguing America.

Elizabeth Ann Seton wrote “troubles always create a great exertion of my mind,” she wrote, “… I think the greatest happiness of this life is to be released from the cares of what is called the world.” Soon after, William tragically died of tuberculosis and Elizabeth became a widow at just 29 years old.

Conversion to Catholicism

While in Italy, Elizabeth had suffered much due to the death of her husband, and she wrote in a letter that her soul was “sensibly convinced of an entire surrender of itself and all its faculties to God.”

She became fascinated with the belief in the real presence of the Blessed Sacrament, but she did not convert to Catholicism until she returned to the United States. She agonized over her decision due to her Protestant background, but ultimately decided to enter the Catholic Church.

Founding of the Sisters of Charity

As a Catholic, Elizabeth suffered rejection by her community, and as a widow, she endured years of financial hardship. Elizabeth moved her family to the state of Maryland, where, to provide for her children, she opened up the first free Catholic school for girls. 

As women came to help her, Elizabeth formed them into the first American religious community for women: the Sisters of Charity. Together, they laid the groundwork for Catholic education in the United States. 


Saint Elizabeth Ann’s legacy continues to this day through the work of religious congregations in the United States and Canada, who serve people living in poverty in North America and beyond. On September 14, 1975, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, often called Mother Seton, was canonized by Pope Paul VI. 

She was the very first citizen born in the United States to be a saint. Her tomb is in the Basilica at the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

RELATED: Catholic Schools Week

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Prayers

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is a powerful intercessor for those who are involved in Catholic education, widows, and seafarers. She is known for her compassion, devoutness, and desire to serve. 

If you are a widow, spouse of someone at sea, or anxious about sending your kids to school soon, you can say simple prayers like:

Lord Jesus, who was born for us in the stable, lived for us a life of pain and sorrow, and died for us upon a cross; say for us in the hour of death, “Father, forgive,” and to Your Mother, “Behold your child.” Say to us, “This day you shall be with Me in paradise.”

Dear Savior, leave us not, forsake us not. We thirst for You, Fountain of Living Water. Our days pass quickly along. Soon all will be consummated for us. Into Your hands we commend our spirits, now and forever. Amen.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!

Lord God,

You blessed Elizabeth Seton with gifts of grace;

As wife and mother, educator and foundress,

So that she might spend her life in service to your people.

Through her example and prayers

May we learn to express our love for you

In love for our fellow men and women.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

One God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Lord God, thank you for blessing

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton with great faith, hope, joy, and charity.

I pray that her timeless example will guide me.

I look at her humility to help me accept your will for my life.

Let her grateful heart remind me to thank you

for the joys and challenges of life.

May her courage and perseverance inspire me

To serve others, our church and our country.

Thank you, God, for Elizabeth Bayley Seton,

a loving and glorious saint who is always by our side.

Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us. Amen.



The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, MD

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Quotes 

  • “Blessed a thousand, thousand times be God who governs all and will bring light out of darkness.”
  • “To enjoy, we must love, and to love, we must sacrifice.”
  • “Those who want the protection of Heaven are surest of obtaining it.”


Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patron saint of many churches, schools and organizations.

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