ARTIFACTS FROM FIRST AMERICAN-BORN SAINT ELIZABETH ANN SETON’S LIFE TO BE MOVED TO HER NATIONAL SHRINE
Donated artifacts from the Sisters of Charity of New York to be displayed as part of on-going commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Mother Seton’s death
EMMITSBURG, MD (March 1, 2021) – The iconic bonnet that Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton wore as she taught her students. The writing table she used to express a spirituality that resonates today. The wedding portraits that remind us that before she founded the Sisters of Charity, the first American-born saint was a loving wife and a mother.
Beginning later this year, these artifacts will be among those displayed at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Md., after a generous donation by the Sisters of Charity of New York.
The early 19th-century artifacts will play a central role in a year-long commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Mother Seton’s death and eventually be a major part of a modernized and expanded museum at the National Shrine.
“These treasures have always had a great significance for us,” said Sister Donna Dodge, president of the Sisters of Charity of New York. “It is with great joy that we send them on a new mission where more people can appreciate them and draw closer to Mother Seton.”
Rob Judge, executive director of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, said the artifacts are a powerful way of telling her story by showing her relatability to people in need of spiritual heroes.
“The more she’s relatable, the more she becomes an example, an inspiration and a friend in heaven for those who visit the shrine or participate in our print and online programs,” he said. “Mother Seton endured many of the challenges which we are enduring in 2021 and therefore provides hope for our nation and the world.”
“We see our mission as promoting the life and legacy of Mother Seton to a world in need of God’s healing love, and these artifacts are a tangible manifestation of that.”
The artifacts will be featured later this year in a special exhibition at the National Shrine, which attracts more than 60,000 visitors a year. Eventually, the artifacts will play a significant role in the redesigned museum.
The artifacts include:
- Mother Seton’s rosary and crucifix
- Her daughter Catherine’s christening gown
- Her father’s tea chest
- The brooch she wore on her wedding day
The Sisters of Charity of New York previously exhibited the artifacts at the Sisters of Charity Archives and Museum, on the campus of the congregation’s headquarters in Riverdale. The congregation ultimately decided the artifacts needed a climate-controlled environment, Sister Dodge said. In addition, because of its remote location, the museum in New York attracts fewer visitors.
Mother Seton was a native of New York and lived there before converting to Catholicism and establishing a school and religious community in Emmitsburg. Mother Seton sent three of her sisters to New York City in 1817 to open an orphanage, establishing the foundation of the Sisters of Charity in New York, which was officially organized in 1846.
The arrival of the artifacts comes as the national shrine marks the bicentennial of Mother Seton’s death. Throughout the year, the National Shrine will host events and publish content aimed at promoting the extraordinary legacy and spirituality of this American saint, including a recently announced 15-day prayer series called “Lift Up My Soul.”
The celebration of Mother Seton began on her feast day on Jan. 4 with a Mass at the Shrine that was celebrated by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. At that Mass, Archbishop Lori called her a “saint for our times” and noted that she would be a deserving co-patroness of the United States. She was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975.
“Her deeply human struggles, her triumphs and her abiding faith resonate with so many people and show what it is to be a Catholic today,” Judge said. “She embodies traditional Catholic – and American – virtues that represent a model of commitment and unity for us all.”
“We are most grateful to the Sisters of Charity of New York for allowing us this opportunity to enhance our museum and to help us fulfill our mission of promoting Mother Seton’s life and legacy as a source of inspiration and encouragement to all people.”
The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first native-born U.S. saint. The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton promotes her life and legacy to inspire everyone. More than 200 years ago, she came to Emmitsburg as a bankrupt widow with five children, and went on to found the first free Catholic school for girls staffed by sisters in the U.S., and the first community of religious women established in the U.S. Today, her legacy includes several religious communities with thousands of sisters, who serve others through schools, social service centers and hospitals throughout the world. Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized in 1975. Her remains are entombed at the National Shrine that bears her name. For more information, please visit https://setonshrine.org/.
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