“The day dawned with a beautiful blue sky, bright sun and no clouds — a result of prayers for good weather,” remembers Sister of Charity Betty Ann McNeil about Sept. 14, 1975, when she attended the canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
“The words of St. Paul VI still reverberate in my mind: ‘Elizabeth Ann Seton is a saint! Elizabeth Ann Seton is a saint,’” Sister Betty Ann clearly recalled to the Register. This year marks the 45th anniversary of that event, when Mother Seton became the first US-born person to be canonized.
Sister Betty Ann was chosen to attend through a lottery the Daughters of Charity conducted. “The idea was to share firsthand accounts of the canonization for generations to come,” she said. “I’ve been retelling stories of the life and legacy of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton ever since.”
An acknowledged Seton scholar, Sister Betty Ann has written and spoken extensively on Mother Seton (1774-1821), was involved in the publication of her writings, and teaches courses on her at Chicago’s DePaul University. On this 45th anniversary, she and other specialists reflected on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s enduring contributions and continuing influence.
One of those enduring messages is that Mother Seton “was a courageous woman of faith, whose trust in God and reliance of divine Providence allowed her to live a virtuous life in hope, which enabled her to overcome adversity, continually seek to do God’s will, and fulfill her call with love,” explained Sister Betty Ann. “The real presence of the Eucharist drew her like a magnet, and Mary, Mother of God, became her prism of faith. She was particularly drawn to the Memorare and the Anima Christi. Psalm 23 was her favorite Psalm throughout life.”
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