Tag Archives: Canonization

The Opportunity for a Richer Understanding of Canonization

This is a guest post by our archival intern for the semester, Jenna Brady, Mount St. Mary’s University class of 2023.

Throughout my internship with the Daughters of Charity Archives, I have had the unique opportunity to go through the past newsletters of sisters from the West Central Province in the 1970s. The West Central Province was established in 1969 by the Daughters of Charity in St. Louis as one of five provinces located in the US. While there are several interesting topics and vast stores of history that I have read and learned about, one of the most exciting events was the Canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. This momentous event took place on September 14, 1975 and was an event that many Daughters of Charity petitioned and prayed hard to achieve.

Elizabeth Ann Seton

The newsletters that I have had the opportunity to read and index recount the journey toward canonization and the great anticipation throughout the early ‘70s. The letters make constant reference to the different preparations that were being made by the provinces in anticipation of the canonization of their namesake. The newsletter from October 1975 is completely devoted to the events throughout the province; such as different Masses and talks that were held during the months preceding the canonization.  This description not only shows how important and monumental the canonization was to all involved but as the newsletter states, “brings into focus the oneness of thought and of purpose in the Daughters of WC Province…” (West Central Province Newsletter, October, 1975, 1).  It then goes on to include an excerpt from a sister in each province discussing the steps that were taken in their own province to prepare and celebrate. Many of these sisters are those who had been featured throughout the course of the newsletters regarding different matters of the province.

View of the crowd at the canonization in Vatican City

While the details of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization are easily accessible today, being able to read firsthand accounts of the celebrations and the profound impact this had on her order gives a deeper meaning to the event. Through reading these newsletters, I have been given the opportunity to come to view the canonization not just as a celebration of a new Saint but rather as the canonization of the woman many sisters considered their mentor in faith and mother in life.

Special Edition of the Marillac Provincial Newsletter, October 1975

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Saints, Blesseds, and Founders in Emmitsburg

This is part of a yearlong series about the early days of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s commemorating the 200th anniversary of the death of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the community.  In 1850, the Emmitsburg-based Sisters united with the international community of the French Daughters of Charity.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first North American-born saint recognized by the global Catholic church.  The Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives in Emmitsburg is the largest holder of writings and artifacts of Mother Seton in the world.

Brick and wrapper from Seton home on State Street, New York City

However, Mother Seton is not the only one represented in the collection recognized as a holy person by Rome, nor is she the only foundress of a community in the collections.  We can provide resources and information about a number of other individuals of this caliber!

Father Simon Bruté was Mother Seton’s spiritual director, a Sulpician priest who later became the first Bishop of Vincennes (now the Archdiocese of Indianapolis).  His cause for canonization was opened in 2005, and he was accepted as a Servant of God.  Materials of his in the archives include correspondence with Mother Seton and her family, spiritual writings, the bands he wore for his consecration as a Bishop, and his many drawings and sketches.

“Eternity, Jesus,” Father Simon Bruté, January 11, 1821

Saint Father John Neumann, CSsR,was Archbishop of Philadelphia from 1852 until his death in 1860.  He was canonized in 1977 and was instrumental in bringing the Daughters of Charity to St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum.

Father John Neumann to Rev. Mariano Maller, C.M., Provincial Director, July 29, 1852

Canonized Popes Many Daughters have been lucky enough to meet the Successors to St. Peter, sometimes as part of a crowd, and sometimes in more serious business.  The most notable occasion relating to the community’s history was Saint Pope Paul VI, who canonized Mother Seton in 1975, thus making Mother Seton’s canonization bull itself a relic of a saint.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta – often still known as Mother Teresa – made a three-day tour of the United States in 1975.  During her visit, she visited the Shrine of the just recently canonized Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton alongside her more formal trips to the United Nations and Washington, D.C.  The archives contains photos of her visit.

Almeide Maxis Duchemin – later known as Mother Theresa Duchemin – was a student of St. Joseph’s Academy from 1819-1823 from around ages 9-13.  She became a founding member of the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore and became the first African American Superior General of a white religious majority community when she co-founded the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  The archives contains records of her schooling at the Academy.

Mothers Elizabeth Boyle and Margaret George were companions of Mother Seton and members of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s who founded their own communities; the Sisters of Charity of New York in 1846 and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1852, respectively. 

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The Canonization Scrapbooks

This is part of a yearlong series about the early days of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s commemorating the 200th anniversary of the death of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the community.  In 1850, the Emmitsburg-based Sisters united with the international community of the French Daughters of Charity.

On September 14, 1975, Mother Seton was recognized by the global church for what many of her devotees already saw her as – the first American-born saint of the Roman Catholic Church!

The Daughters of Charity Provincial Archive contains significant information about the process of Mother Seton’s canonization, including the introduction and advocacy of the cause, correspondence, and investigation into her virtues and miracles.  However, the 23 canonization scrapbooks in the archive reflect what individual people experienced while the event was taking place, both in Rome and in the United States.

Some scrapbooks do not have a name attached to them, but contain many newspaper clippings from around the country about the event, along with American and Vatican memorabilia. 

Other scrapbooks reflect group pilgrimages, such as that of the Emmitsburg Community Chorus, donated to the archives in 2000.

Still more gather photos of that magnificent day in the Eternal City. 

Donors include sisters, priests, supporters of the cause, and members of the Mother Seton Guild, one of the leading groups advocating for the cause.

Taken collectively, these scrapbooks show the effect that Mother Seton’s canonization had on the community and Catholics around the world at a very specific moment in 1975.

Travel information and ticket stubs from Ms. J. Baronett of the Mother Seton Guild

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