Yet she was a spiritual child, and very aware of the city’s impoverished.
She brought food to the poor and visited the sick, continuing to do so after she married and moved to Wall Street.
“The poverty and destitution of New York worried the sensitive girl, who, with her sister-in-law, daily journeyed to homes where help was needed, and where they came to be known as the Protestant sisters of charity,” explains a 1931 New York Times article.
In 1802, she sailed to Italy, where she was introduced to Catholicism—and where her businessman husband, William Seton, died.
Back in New York and struggling financially with five children, she found solace in the church—converting to Catholicism in 1805 at the city’s only Catholic church at the time, St. Peter’s on Barclay Street.
She founded the Sisters of Charity, opening the first Catholic schools and orphanages in the U.S. in New York, Philadelphia, and Maryland.
She died of tuberculosis at 46 in 1821. Pope Paul IV canonized her in 1975—the first U.S.-born saint.
Though her remains are entombed in a shrine in Maryland, a shrine in her name exists at 7 State Street (above), next door to her childhood home.