Seton Medical Centers are named for the first American-born saint in the Catholic church.

Canonized by Pope Paul VI on Sept. 14, 1975, Elizabeth Ann Seton’s impact is something the medical center in Harker Heights commemorates each year on her feast day, Jan. 4.

“We also try to have a special Mass on the feast day of Elizabeth Ann Seton, which happened to be on the date of the Mass of internment of the relic on the altar,” said Jenni Cobb, the hospital’s chaplain. “It’s a part of the culture of the organization, caring for the sick, the poor and the vulnerable.”

Seton was born in 1774 in New York and grew up in a prominent family, according to

Originally Episcopalian, the eventual saint had a lifelong love for the scriptures of the Bible, the website stated. It was her “continual instruction, support and comfort” through a “quiet, simple, and often lonely” early life.

At 19, she married into the name Seton and had five children by 1802.

Even while raising her family, Seton helped organize a group of prominent ladies to visit sick, poor residents in their homes to render what aid they could, according to the website. The group was informally called the Ladies of Charity.

Seton was known for training nurses and considered a leader in her time for teaching young women how to care for the sick, Cobb said.

In 1803, Seton’s husband died of tuberculosis in Italy, which is where Seton was introduced to Catholicism.

“Now the sole provider for five children, and a widow having no resources of her own, she was cared for by many Catholics in the community,” Cobb said. “She was shunned by her family and friends (after converting), but she held true to her newfound faith. ... She was offered a position starting a Catholic school, which really began her journey in teaching and eventually founding the school that taught nurses.”

In order to be considered for sainthood, an individual must have shown great faith and devotion in their lives, Cobb said. After they die, miracles must be attributed to them that couldn’t be explained through medicine.

Seton was recognized for three miracles: curing a child of leukemia, curing Sister Gertrude Korzendorfer of cancer and curing Carl Kalin of encephalitis, Cobb said.

Seton died in 1821 at age 46. On Dec. 18, 1959, she was declared Venerable by the Sacred Congregation of Rite and canonized by Pope Paul VI on Sept. 14, 1975, the first U.S.-born citizen to be so, according to the website.

Contact Audrey Spencer at or (254) 501-7476

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