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Happy Birthday Mother Seton!

Mother Seton's birthday celebration takes place Aug. 31 at the National Shrine.
Mother Seton's birthday celebration takes place Aug. 31 at the National Shrine.
Seton Shrine

Aug. 28 marked the 240th birthday of Elizabeth Ann Seton—the first saint to be born in the United States. To celebrate her birthday, the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton will be holding a special birthday celebration today, Aug. 31, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Starting at 1:30 p.m., there will be a special Mass held at the National Shrine’s Basilica to celebrate and honor the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Archbishop William E. Lori will lead the service.

Following the conclusion of Mass will begin a Family Fun Day on the grounds of the Shrine. The Family Fun Day will serve as a birthday party for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and will include many of the same fixings you would find at any other birthday celebration including everyone’s favorite—birthday cake. Other festivities to enjoy include carnival games, balloons and a wide range of fun activities.

All are welcome to come out and join attend this birthday party for this remarkable woman. Born in New York in 1774, during her life, Elizabeth Ann Seton was married and widowed and raised five children on her own. Her daughter Catherine became the first-born American to join the Sisters of Mercy. Seton was also among the founders of the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children in 1797. She was first introduced to Roman Catholicism through her late husband’s Italian business partners. Always a good Christian woman, Elizabeth Ann Seton converted to Catholicism in 1805. Seton eventually met Father Abbé Louis William Valentine Dubourg, S.S., a member of the French emigré community of Sulpician Fathers and then president of St. Mary's College. For several years, Dubourg envisioned a religious school to meet the educational needs of the small Catholic community in the nation and invited Seton to fill the role of educator. She accepted and moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1809. A year later, Saint Joseph's Academy and Free School, a school dedicated to the education of Catholic girls was created.

Elizabeth Ann Seton established a religious community in Emmitsburg dedicated to the care of the children of the poor. It was the first congregation of religious sisters to be founded in the United States. Its school was the first free Catholic school in America. The new order of sisters was initially called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's, also known as the Daughters of Charity. From then on, Seton became known as "Mother Seton," and by1810, the Sisters adopted the rules written by St. Vincent de Paul for the Daughters of Charity in France. Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized a saint in 1975.

Come out and be a part of this celebration and commemoration of this remarkable woman today. To learn more about Mother Seton’s legacy, the National Shrine and the religious community in Emmitsburg, visit www.setonheritage.org.