President Obama presents Pope Francis with key to the home of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

stone-houseUpon Pope Francis’ arrival at the White House today, President Barack Obama presented him with the original key to the home of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. The key once opened the door of her home, the Stone House, in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on the grounds of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Presented in a case crafted specifically for the occasion, the key honors both His Holiness Pope Francis, and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. “This gift is a fitting tribute,” said Rob Judge, Executive Director of The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, “to a woman who opened doors for so many women to serve the poor, and for a man who has been a strong advocate for those who are poor and marginalized.”

2015-09_Seton-key-300x144“It is humbling,” said Judge, “to know that Pope Francis literally holds the key to Mother Seton’s home, where we welcome tens of thousands of visitors every year. People of all faiths are drawn here to learn the story of her life and legacy.”

Elizabeth Seton was born in 1774 in New York. She was a wife, mother of five, and widow, who founded both a girls’ school and congregation of religious Sisters, the first of their kind in the United States. More than 200 years later, thousands of her Sisters continue her legacy of charity worldwide. Her National Shrine is now celebrating the 40th anniversary of her canonization in September 1975 by Pope Paul VI.

Sister Jane Iannucelli, President of the Sisters of Charity of New York, is board president of Seton Heritage Ministries.


10 Responses to President Obama presents Pope Francis with key to the home of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

  1. Joan Barthel September 23, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

    As the author of “AMERICAN SAINT: The Life of Elizabeth Seton,” I am just thrilled. Or, as Elizabeth once said, “I am laughing with God.” What a wonderful idea! Abundant compliments and congratulations to the Sister(s) who arranged it. If you’re ever thinking of a career change, you’d make a fantastic PR woman!

  2. Irma D. September 23, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    The question is: was it his to give??

    • Webmaster September 23, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

      It is one of two original keys to the Stone House from the Archives of The Daughters of Charity, Province of Saint Louise. Sister Louise Gallahue and her Council donated the key for the purpose of this gift.

    • Nan C September 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

      What a silly question! I am sure it was approved by the Daughters of Charity.

      • Webmaster September 24, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

        It was also approved by the Seton Heritage Foundation 🙂

  3. Paul September 24, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    I understand your excitement, Joan. Can you share with us some information on the house. (I lent my copy of your excellent Seton book to my sister, so it’s not at hand).

    • Paul September 25, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      More than ever, Ms Barthel’s Seton book is a must-read.

    • Brother David September 26, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

      How wonderful that Our Holy Father has received the Key to Mother Seton’s home. How wonderful this is for all the Sisters of Charity who gave and continue to give so much to all of us. It is great that Pope Francis acknowledged the Sisters and said what all of us believe ” We Love You Sisters”, thanks for all you Have given to us and Will continue to give.
      A loyal graduate of the Sisters of Charity at Epiphany School, NYC
      Brother David ( John Migliorino ’63)

    • Joan Barthel September 27, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

      Thank you, Paul. I’m happy–make that delighted–that you liked “AMERICAN SAINT: The Life of Elizabeth Seton,” and I appreciate your taking the time to tell me so.

      The Stone House, where Elizabeth and the Sisters lived for six months while their log house was being completed, was barely habitable. Four small rooms, two up and two down, for sixteen people. Upstairs was really a garret, with no beds; snow drifted in through holes in the roof onto women sleeping on the floor. Without glass, the windows were covered with boards. Downstairs, there were not even enough chairs. Their frugal budget ruled out coffee, so they made “coffee” from carrots, shaved, then roasted and steeped in boiling water. In the interest of research, I made “carrot coffee” while I was writing the book, and I can echo what you see as a warning on TV ads: don’t try this at home!

  4. Margaret Mary Hawkins September 26, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    What a wonderful gift.Each time it is touched it will feel like she is touching the key so Happy for you

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