Tuesday, July 30 – National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

by Cam Miller. 0 Comments

***Scroll down to see my offer for Red Cross donations.***
Visitor Center and Basilica
Seton Chapel
It was another perfect summer day, so I took the Hummingbird Feeder <aka my red convertible> to Emmitsburg to visit the beautiful campus of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.


There is much information online about the life and work and eventual beatification of the saint, who became known as Mother Seton.  I am not going to attempt to write it all in this blog, but in a nutshell, Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in New York in 1774.  She was an Episcopalian, and after marriage to her husband William Seton, had five children.  After her husband's death from tuberculosis, she started a school for young ladies.  She converted to Catholicism and came to Emmitsburg in 1809, where she started the first free Catholic school for the poor in the United States and founded the Daughters and Sisters of Charity.  She was canonized in 1963.  Please do read more about her fascinating life.  She was only a Catholic for 16 years, but she accomplished so much. 

Altar of Relics
Interior of the Basilica
I went first to the Visitor Center, where there is a short film and a museum with several exhibits.  I opted not to go to those, because I was more interested in walking the grounds.  I left the center and went into the Basilica, where I met Sister Pat, from Michigan.  She was a docent today, and we got to talking.  I mentioned photographing butterflies, and she launched into the most amazing story about her friend Irma, who recently died at age 60 from cancer.  Irma was sure she was going to heaven, and she told Sister Pat that she would come back after her death and visit her as a butterfly.  After Irma's death, Sister Pat came out of mass one day to find that there was a butterfly on her car.  She took pictures of it, and it flew to the handicapped parking sign, then returned to land on her chest.  Sister Pat talked to the butterfly, addressing her as Irma.  When she opened the door to her car, the butterfly flew inside.  Sister Pat drove to Irma's house to show Irma's husband the butterfly.  Butterfly Irma stayed inside the car, posing on the windows so that Sister Pat could take pictures.  Later, Sister Pat let the butterfly go free.  Sister Pat looked in a butterfly identification book and found that the butterfly was a Red Admiral.  When telling her chiropractor about this incident, he wrote down the name and then scrambled the letters.  He found "Irma Ladder" within the scramble.  Sister Pat believes that this butterfly was Irma's ladder to heaven.

"New" Cemetery
Mother Seton Memorial Garden
Now I have to tell you, I am not a Catholic, nor am I a regular churchgoer, but it is stories like this that confirm my belief that there is a higher power, and that one only needs to look as far as nature for evidence.  OK, enough of my soapbox.

After her moving story, which made a lump in my throat, Sister Pat told me about the construction of the Basilica.  It was started in 1961 and finished in 1965.  Nearly the entire structure is of marble.  There are beautiful stained glass windows, made in Germany, and an altar holds the relic remains of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The Stone House
The Old Cemetery and Mortuary
I left the Basilica to find the Stone House, which housed the first 16 Sisters of Charity in four rooms, and then the memorial garden, with a beautiful statue of Mother Seton with two children.  I continued to the White House, which was built for Mother Seton and the Sisters of Charity, and then walked to the first cemetery and mortuary.  Mother Seton's remains were first in this cemetery, along with some of her children and relatives; later her remains were moved to the Basilica.  This beautiful old cemetery is surrounded by native stone walls, into which are placed the 14 Stations of the Cross.

Also on this beautiful campus is housing for the nuns who live and work there today, as well as a new cemetery for  those who have died in service.  It is a peaceful, beautiful place.


At the Cross
I recommend that anyone who is devout or who is primarily spiritual like me, make a visit to the Grotto, find lunch in Emmitsburg, and then finish with a visit to the shrine.  Of course, Catholics will get the most out of this trip, but for anyone who appreciates communing with nature and history and beauty, it is a thoroughly worthwhile trip.



Save the date!  Monday, September 2, will be the last day of my year long photo walk project, and I'm planning a big celebration walk with anyone who wants to join me!  September 2 is also Labor Day, so many of you will have the day off.  The walk will be in downtown Frederick, around 9 a.m., followed by a brunch.  More details will be posted on my blog as they get confirmed.  But mark your calendars, grab your cameras, put on your walking shoes, and join me for my final Daily Photo Walk.  Let's jam the streets of Frederick with photo walkers! 


Click on any photo to enlarge it.
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Forward me by email any receipt for an online donation made to the Red Cross for disaster relief, and I will send you a 5x7 print of your choice from any of my daily photo walks or from my website.  Offer good until September 2, 2013.

Visit my web site: camscamerashots.zenfolio.com
Follow me on Twitter: @camscamerashots
Email:  cam.miller@comcast.net

Cam's rules for the Daily Photo Walk:
  1. walk every day
  2. the walk must be in addition to any other planned activity for the day
  3. post a photo every day
  4. use whatever camera is easy and convenient for walking comfortably; always have a backup camera at the ready in case of mishaps (I use the Nikon Coolpix P7700)
  5. no weather excuses
  6. walk only where it is safe to do so

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