In honor of St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, the first American born saint whose feast day was Sunday, January 4, share with your students the complete list of American saints and blesseds. Consider assigning the students to research and write a fuller report on any of those listed below.
North American Jesuit Martyrs. Five French missionaries were martyred in Canada; another three in New York. Those who were killed in New York were Saints Isaac Jogues, René Goupil, and Jean Lalande. Their shrine is at Auriesville, New York. Canonized in 1930.
St. Frances Cabrini (1850–1917). Italian immigrant who became a naturalized American citizen in 1909. Founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Worked tirelessly among the American immigrants. Known as the “Heavenly Patroness of all Emigrants.” Her shrine is in New York City. Canonized in 1946.
St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (1774–1821). First native-born American to be canonized a saint. Daughter of an aristocratic Episcopalian, New York family. Mother of five children. When widowed, she converted to Catholicism (1805) and founded the American Sisters of Charity (1809). Established many Catholic schools that served as the prototype of the American Catholic school system. Her order also founded many hospitals and served heroically during the Civil War. Canonized in 1975.
St. John Nepomucene Neumann (1811–1860). Native of Bohemia who served as a pioneer diocesan priest in Rochester and Buffalo, New York. Joined the Redemptorists and was named the fourth bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. Was a gentle, prayerful, faithful missionary and example to his flock. Canonized in 1977.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769–1852). French-born foundress of the Religious of the Sacred Heart. Came as a missionary to the Louisiana Territory at the age of forty-nine. Established a mission in Missouri with the first free school west of the Mississippi. Devoted her years of service to educate Native Americans, care for their sick, and combat alcoholism in the tribes. Known by the Pottawatomi Indians as the “Woman-Who-Prays-Always.” Canonized in 1988.
St. Katharine Drexel (1858–1955). Called the “Millionaire Nun,” Katherine Drexel inherited a fortune that she eventually used for missionary endeavors in the community of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, which she founded in 1891. She established sixty missions for the education of Native Americans and African Americans and founded Xavier University in New Orleans, the only Catholic university dedicated to serving African Americans. Canonized in 2000.
St. Anne-Thérèse Guérin (1798–1856). French nun who came to Vincennes, Indiana, and later helped establish the Academy of St. Mary-of-the-Woods (1841) at Terre Haute, Indiana, the first Catholic women’s liberal-arts college in the United States. Established schools and orphanages and engaged in many charitable works to help the poor and sick. Canonized in 2006.
St. Damien DeVeuster (1840–1889). “The Leper Priest” who heroically served outcast lepers on the colony at Molokai in Hawaii. His devotion to them led to his eventually contracting the disease himself. Beatified in 1995. Canonized in 2009.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656–1680). Called the “Lily of the Mohawk.” Iroquois Indian born in New York state who was converted by the early Jesuit missionaries. Lived a prayerful life and maintained a cheerful disposition in the midst of much ridicule for her conversion and for her living a life of chastity and devotion. Beatified in 1980.
Blessed Junípero Serra (1713–1784). Born in Spain and came to America as a heroic, hard-working Franciscan missionary in California. Established nine missions there while showing great love for Native Americans. His many travels brought him much physical pain because of ulcerous varicose veins, but he always remained a man of deep prayer. Beatified in 1988.
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (1819–67). Born in Bavaria and ordained a Redemptorist priest in Baltimore. In Pittsburgh, he served as a priest under St. John Neumann, became pastor, and was beloved as a spiritual director. Other assignments included preaching missions in many states, in both German and English. Died of Yellow Fever after caring for its victims in New Orleans. Beatified in 2000.
Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez (1918–1963). First Puerto Rican to be beatified. Suffered much in his life from ulcerative colitis that led to an early death caused by colon cancer. Kept a cheerful disposition and developed a great love of the liturgy. Known as the “lay Apostle of the liturgical movement,” his zealous teaching of the faith, joyous demeanor, and exemplary life led many people to seek a religious vocation. Beatified in 2001.
Blessed Mother Marianne Cope (1838–1918). Called the “Leprosy Nun.” A supervisor in a Syracuse hospital when she volunteered to go to Molokai to help Fr. Damien, “the leper priest.” She worked nonstop for thirty years serving the lepers and managing homes for children, leaving at her death a legacy of schools, hospitals, and orphanages. Beatified in 2005.
More information on these saints and other events in American Catholicism are referenced in This Is Our Church: A History of Catholicism.