Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was a devoted wife, a volunteer in charitable organizations, a mother of five children, an educator, and a spiritual leader. Yet, she found time to be an inexhaustible servant of God. Her real name was Elizabeth Ann Bayley and she was the daughter of a notable Episcopal family. She was born on August 28, 1774. Her childhood had its good times and bad times. She lost her mother at the age of three, and formed a deep attachment to her father. Through her adolescence, she became jealous of her new stepmother and sometimes considered ending her own life. Her beauty only added to her talents; she was spirited, fluent in French, a fine musician, an accomplished equestrian, and very popular at parties. The parties is where she found her love: William Seton. .
William and Elizabeth joined their hearts in marriage. He ran his family's shipping business, while Elizabeth started the family at home. After two of her children were born, their father became ill being infected with the yellow fever epidemic. Their wealth began to decrease and William feared debt. Elizabeth believed that God would help them. She wrote in a journal, "Troubles always create a great exertion of my mind and give it a force to which at other times it is incapable. I think the greatest happiness of this life is to be released from the cares of what is called the world." Two years later, the once wealthy Seton family found themselves bankrupt. During the summer, Elizabeth and her children went to live with her father, but he too became plagued by yellow fever. She and her children returned home to comfort her dying husband. .
The doctor suggested taking a trip to Italy on a ship. Selling their possessions, the family took the voyage to visit their friends, the Felicchi family. The trip was lovely; but on their return, they were quarantined and forced to suffer the worst forty days of their lives.