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YOU, O GOD (Ps 42:2)


—CCC, NOS. 27-43


Elizabeth Bayley came from a wealthy, Episcopalian, New York family. Born

in 1774, two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence,

she came into a world of conflicting loyalties—royalists and revolutionaries.

Her father threw in his lot with the American Revolution.

At sixteen, Elizabeth fell in love with William Magee Seton, a

wealthy businessman. Three years later, in early 1794, she married

William and in time gave birth to three girls and two boys. The couple

was married for only a few years before a series of problems began

to affect the family. By 1801, William’s business had failed and so had

his health.

William and Elizabeth accepted an offer from the Fillichi family of

Livorno, Italy, to come there to help William recover. However, shortly after

arriving in Italy in late 1803 with his wife and eldest daughter, William died.

The Fillichis comforted the widow and child and impressed them both

with their strong Catholic faith. While in Italy, Elizabeth spent much time

visiting various Catholic churches and spending time in them praying in

front of the Blessed Sacrament.

After about six months, Elizabeth returned to New York, where she was

reunited with her other children, and she decided to become a Catholic.

A year later, she was received into full communion with the Catholic

Church on March 4, 1805, by Fr. Matthew O’Brien, pastor of St. Peter’s

Church in lower Manhattan. Her family and friends abandoned her, but

Antonio Fillichi—who was in New York at this time—supported her.