National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

9/21/14 Sunday in Gettysburg,PA (Gettysburg Battlefield Resort-ROD)

This was an interesting church (St. Joseph the Worker). It reminded us of a castle.

church

Before Mass started we heard the most beautiful, calming music. Strong, harmonious voices and a guitar. I thought for sure they were playing a recording. The choir was in a balcony behind us. As Mass went on I realized it was the choir! 3 men and 1 woman. Wow. The sound filled the church. When anyone else sang their voice just got lost in the sound. Wonderful experience.

On this lovely sunny day we went to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. I had no clue it was here, but we’d seen signs on the highway.

seton 1

Her story: Her mom died when she was 6, her father was a famous physician but rarely home. She met her husband at 16 and married at 19, then went on to have 5 children in 7 years! She once said “My world is my family.”

seton 2

Her father died in 1801 from the same disease suffered by those he was caring for: yellow fever.

Both were from wealthy families. William worked very hard at his father’s business (his father had died soon after they married) but shipping/importing fell on hard times and he went bankrupt in 1803. He also had to take on all his brothers and sisters (7). He’d suffered most of his life from tuberculosis. In a desperate attempt to restore his health they went to Italy with one of their daughters to visit friends. They were quarantined in a dungeon like building when they reached Italy (yellow fever in America). The sad thing: her husband William died soon after they were released. She stayed with their friends the Filicchis for several months, recovering from William’s death, and was introduced to Catholicism (she was Episcopalian).

When she returned to New York she became drawn to that faith but met great resistance from her friends and family. Despite that she persisted and converted. She struggled (widow with so many children) to start a school in New York. A priest there suggested she might have more success in Baltimore, MD. Thus she came there. A friend found a farm for her in Emmitsburg,MD. There she and those who wanted to follow her (Sisters of Charity) came to live, in a “Stone House.” They later covered the stones with a stucco when they added an addition. Her daughters came as well. Her sons went to school nearby.

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They suffered that first winter, it was way too small and cold, so they built a much larger building, the “White House.” Here is where they taught children from the area (general education, not religion), starting the first free parish school. Those children who came from far away were boarded here and did pay, thus providing income for the Sisters.

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This is the room where she died, at age 46, of tuberculosis, just off from the chapel room.

seton 10

Her son William built this mortuary chapel for her remains, but they were moved to the Basilica when she was canonized.

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Mother Seton had always wanted to be a Daughter of Charity, a group formed by St. Vincent de Paul in France. In 1850, after her death (1821), the Sisters of Charity were able to take vows as Daughters of Charity. Thus their connection with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She was also the first American Catholic Saint.

At home I suggested we take a walk around the campground. We discovered their Koi Pond.

pond 2

Toward the end of our walk it started to rain and we started talking with a sweet couple sitting under their large awning, Olivia and Jack. They told us they take US 15 south through Virginia, then US 17 as well. It is 2 lane some of the time, not an issue with their class C camper.

As it rained (love that sound) we enjoyed our dinner and TV.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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