Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Though she was born and raised in New York, Elizabeth Ann Seton did much of her work -- including ministering to the poor and laying the foundations for the American parochial school system -- in Baltimore and then Emmitsburg, Md. Her home, the school she founded and the shrine housing her remains are all open to the public in Emmitsburg. An excerpt from The Post of Sept. 15, 1975:
Pope Paul VI proclaimed Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton as the first native-born American saint in a ceremony in sun-drenched St. Peter's Square this morning.
A crowd estimated at well over 70,000, more than 15,000 from the United States, attended the two-hour ceremony in honor of Mother Seton who died in 1821 at Emmitsburg, Md., where she founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph and the first American parochial school.
After the 25-minute canonization ceremony, Pope Paul VI celebrated mass with eight cardinals, archbishops and bishops, all but one of them Americans.
During his homily in English, Pope Paul, who was interrupted five times by applause, stressed the American aspect of the canonization: "Rejoice we say to the great nation of the United States of America. Rejoice for your glorious daughter. Be proud of her. And know how to preserve her fruitful heritage. This most beautiful figure of a holy woman presents to the world and to history the affirmation of new and authentic riches that are yours: that religious spirituality which your temporal prosperity seemed to obscure and almost make impossible ..."
Mother Seton, a convert from the Episcopal faith to Roman Catholicism, was a New York debutante and mother of five children before her husband died and she entered religious life.
Pope Paul today in his homily underlined that Mother Seton's "supreme exaltation" coincided with the United Nations' International Women's Year. The Vatican also had proclaimed today "Women's Day."
Accordingly, for the first time ever, a woman read the first lesson in the canonization mass. She was Sister Hildegarde Marie Mahoney, president of the Federation of Mother Seton's Daughters, which is made up of the six communities stemming from the original founding of the order in Maryland. ...
To cap the female emphasis, for the first time a woman conducted a choir participating in a St. Peter's ceremony. She was Sister Jane Marie Perrot, music director of the Ecumenical Emmitsburg Community Chorus which, together with the Sistine Chapel Choir, sang joyfully during the ceremony.
"I'm joyfully exhausted," said Sister Perrot after conducting for over two hours.
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