What do you know about St. Elizabeth Seton?

A statue of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is seen on one of the two restored bronze doors at the main entrance of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York following their installation Aug. 14 in this 2013 file photo. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
A statue of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is seen on one of the two restored bronze doors at the main entrance of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York following their installation Aug. 14 in this 2013 file photo. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

There are some things I learned about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton over the years. When I was little, I heard a tape of my sister singing her full name. “Elizabeth,” named after the saint, was somewhere in the mix.

As a young adult, I occasionally saw the St. Elizabeth Seton parish bus near the Peoria/Sun City border transporting elderly parishioners to Mass. I learned shortly thereafter that she is also the namesake of Seton Catholic Preparatory in Chandler and the founder of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, who have faithfully served the Diocese of Phoenix.

Somewhere along the way I also learned that she was the first native born American to be canonized.

A contact at the Archdiocese for the Military Services recently pointed out that St. Elizabeth Ann Seton — via a Naval connection through her two sons — is patroness of the Sea Services. An annual pilgrimage for sea farers is today at the national shrine that bears her name. Members of the following service branches are expected to be there:

  • Navy
  • Marine Corps
  • Coast Guard
  • Merchant Marines
  • U.S. Public Health Services

Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Coyle of the Archdiocese for the Military Services — a longtime Naval chaplain and chaplain to Pope Benedict XVI — will celebrate the liturgy. The U.S. Naval Academy Catholic Choir will provide music.

Mother Seton’s deep concern for one son, who was appointed midshipman on the fourth of July in 1817, is evidenced in the many letters she wrote him during his 17 years of service, according to an Archdiocese for the Military Services press release. Mother Seton’s letters to her sons at sea showed a mother’s concern in startling clarity, it continued.

She would worry that she didn’t know where they were at sea and if they were okay. “Now men and women at sea can know they have a Saint watching over them. They can entrust their loved ones to her care,” said Adm. Wililam Fallon, who is chairing this year’s pilgrimage.