Sisters of Charity of New York Donate Historical Artifacts of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton to National Shrine in Emmitsburg, Md.


The Sisters of Charity of New York are donating rare artifacts relating to the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton to the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Md. The artifacts will be sent from their Bronx home in Mount St. Vincent to Maryland on Monday, March 8.

A New York City native, Elizabeth Seton is the first American-born saint; she was canonized in September 1975. She founded the Sisters of Charity in 1809 in Emmitsburg, Md., the first American congregation of women religious in the United States.

This decision to donate the artifacts from the congregation’s Archive and Museum to the Seton Shrine in Maryland was made with consideration for the significant regard that the New York community holds for these items. Sister Donna Dodge, S.C., president of the Sisters of Charity of New York, and the members of the Leadership Team concluded that the artifacts required a level of care, conservation and climate control that would be best served at the shrine in Maryland. The artifacts will attract many more visitors curious to learn more about the American saint in their new home.

The donated artifacts will be included in a new exhibit at the Seton Shrine to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on Jan. 4, 1821. 

“This is yet another opportunity for us as Sisters of Charity to meet our grace,” Sister Donna said. “We hope that visitors to the national shrine will be inspired by the opportunity to view these artifacts as both part of the history of New York where Elizabeth Ann Seton was born as well as of Emmitsburg, Md., where she lived and guided a new community of religious women.”

Several of the items belonged to Elizabeth Seton before her conversion to Catholicism and during her leadership of the Emmitsburg community of sisters. Many items were donated in 1972 by Ferdinand Jevons, the last living descendant of Elizabeth Ann Seton. They include:

  •   the hand-painted wedding porcelain miniatures of Elizabeth Ann Seton and husband, William Magee Seton;
  •   a gold filigree Seton family brooch worn by Elizabeth on her wedding day;
  •   Elizabeth’s portable writing desk;
  •   the christening gown sewn by Elizabeth for her daughter Catherine;
  •   Mother Seton’s rosary and crucifix;
  •   and a tea chest with inlaid decoration that belonged to Elizabeth’s father, Dr. Richard Bayley, New York City’s first chief medical officer. 

On Feb. 14, the Sisters of Charity held a virtual blessing service to commemorate the donation. The service included remarks by Rob Judge, executive director of the Seton Shrine, who presented an overview of the collection’s new home in Maryland.