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From the British Pathé archives comes this fascinating newsreel of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton's beatification by Pope John XXIII in 1963.
Like the holy people I write about in My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, St. Elizabeth, who would be canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975, is a patron for those who seek healing from the effects of childhood trauma.
Born in New York City, Elizabeth suffered the loss of her mother when she was only a toddler. Soon after, her father remarried and had seven more children by his second wife. By the time Elizabeth was in her mid-teens, her father had separated from her stepmother and moved to England, leaving her with an uncle. Since the stepmother was not interested in maintaining closeness with Elizabeth, the future saint effectively lost a mother for the second time. Depression and even thoughts of suicide plagued her during her mid-teens, making her conscious of the God-shaped vacuum in her heart. That longing would eventually lead her to the Catholic Church and the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
What I find particularly inspiring about Elizabeth was that, lacking the example of a mother, she was yet able to embody the beautiful mystery of spiritual motherhood to the many young people under her instruction. Here is how she saw her vocation, in her own words:
"I am as a Mother encompassed by many children of different dispositions—not all equally amiable or congenial, but bound to love, instruct, and provide for the happiness of all, to give the example of cheerfulness, Peace, resignation, and consider individuals more as proceeding from the same Origin and tending to the same end than in the different shades of merit or demerit."
Read more: "The Inspiring Legacy of Life: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton."