May 3, 1795 New York New York County (Manhattan) New York, USA
Mar. 12, 1812 Emmitsburg Frederick County Maryland, USA
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On 25 January 1794, at age 19, Elizabeth Ann Bayley married William Magee Seton, aged 26, a wealthy businessman in the import trade. Samuel Provoost, the first Episcopalian bishop of New York, witnessed the wedding vows of the couple.
Five children were born to the marriage: Anna Maria (Annina) (1795–1812), William Jr (1797-1868), Richard (1798–1823), Catherine (1800–1891) (who was to become the first American to join the Sisters of Mercy) and Rebecca Mary (1802–1816).
After the death of Elizabeth's husband in Italy, she eventually settled in rural Maryland and found the Sisters of Charity of St Joseph, at the request of Bishop John Carroll. The Sulpicians assisted Elizabeth in adapting the seventeenth-century French Common Rules of the Daughters of Charity (1672) for the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, in accord with the needs of the Catholic Church in America. Elizabeth formed her sisters in the Vincentian spirit according to the tradition of Louise de Marillac (1591-1660) and Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). Eighteen Sisters of Charity, including Elizabeth, made private, annual vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service of the poor for the first time, July 19, 1813; thereafter they made vows annually on March 25.
Divine Providence guided Elizabeth and her little community through the poverty and unsettling first years. Numerous women joined the Sisters of Charity. During the period 1809-1820, of the ninety-eight candidates who arrived in Elizabeth's lifetime, eighty-six of them actually joined the new community; seventy percent remained Sisters of Charity for life. Illness, sorrow, and early death were omnipresent in Elizabeth's life. She buried eighteen sisters at Emmitsburg, in addition to her two daughters Sr Annina (a novice in her mother's order) and Rebecca, and her sisters-in-law Harriet and Sr Cecilia Seton.