There are several buildings and monuments that stand just south of the Basilica that were important to St Elizabeth and the community she founded. The Stone House was the first home for St Elizabeth in the St Joseph's Valley. The house was originally built about 1750, but at the time Mother Seton and the 16 others that lived with her for the first winter lived here the house was nowhere near as tight and tucked up as it is today. Winter drafts found their ways through the stones. Plus, the house was originally located near Tom's Creek, a few miles away. The house was moved to its present location only in 1979. Its importance relates to the fact that in this house is where Mother Seton began the Sisters of Charity.
Named St Joseph House by Mother Seton, the White House was originally located east of the large brick chapel you can see over on the neighboring National Emergency Training Center grounds - then the chapel for St Joseph's College. The White House, originally built in 1809-10, became the new home for the Sisters of Charity with sleeping quarters on the second floor. The House became home to both Sisters and boarders who took advantage of the first parochial school in the US. The building was moved here from its original site in 1845.
The cemetery site was chosen in August 1809 with Harriet Seton being the first to be interred at the young age of 22. Mother Seton was buried next to her relatives under a large oak tree on Jan 4, 1821 - the tree was removed after a lightning strike in 1984 and another has taken its place. A stone marker marks her original grave site. Her sons gave money to start a more fitting resting place and eventually the Mortuary Chapel was completed in 1846 to where Mother Seton's remains were thence removed. Mother Seton has moved on since then. After her sainthood, she was moved to the Seton Chapel in the Basilica. The original gravesite is just to the right of the Mortuary Chapel - next to her two daughters and sisters-in-law.
Located near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, Emmitsburg still maintains some of the quiet, rural life it knew at the time it experienced part of the Confederate invasion during the Civil War.
Though small and remote, nevertheless, this town served an important role in the religious history of this nation. A number of French clergy found a new home here, after fleeing the terrors of their Revolution. After settling, they opened St. Mary Seminary, which still trains clergy for the various dioceses of the United States.
New York City, in 1809, saw the conversion of the prominent young widow, Elizabeth Bayley Seton, to the Roman church. As a result of this decision, however, Mrs. Seton became a social outcast, and lost her sole means of providing for herself and her young children. Long known for her solicitude for the poor of the city, the Abbé's offered her a place of refuge, similar to what they themselves had found there.
A year later, she was led to found a group of relgious Sisters dedicated to the service of the poor, especially in educating the children they served. Known as the Sisters of Charity, foundations of this congregation spread throughout the United States and Canada. Her work is considered the foundation of the parochial school system in this nation.
In 1975, Mother Seton (as she came to be known) was declared a saint of the Roman Catholic church. She was the first U.S.-born citizen to be so honored. Today her remains are preserved and honored at a shrine locaged at the college still run by the community of Sisters she founded.
It was a branch of these Sisters who taught me for most of my student career before college. Located not far from Gettysburg, I was able to stop and pay my own honor to the women who helped make this education possible through the commitment of their lives.
In honor of Mother Seton and her dedication to the Sisters of Saint Joseph, a shrine and basilica are here for public view.
The grounds are open to all for free (donations are gladly accepted). There are paths to walk and contemplate nature; there is a museum with artificats and information from the history of Elizabeth Seton and the Sisters of Charity. The basilica is beautiful and masses are said there on a regular schedule (see website below). Of course they also have a gift shop where christian memorabilia and souveniers can be purchased.
Spend at least an hour here; more than two hours if you attend one of the masses.
This is a walkway with the names of deceased firemen and firewomen who have died in the line of duty. The names are on plaques and inlayed in stepping stones. There is a stone pylon with a dedication to all the firefighters in the nation.
This is about a half-hour tourist stop.
Visit the Seton Chapel and walk the Seton grounds when you are done with the Firefighters Memorial.
Next to the Grotto you can find the small stone Corpus Christi Chapel that was built in 1905. Next to this is the first statue erected of St Elizabeth Ann Seton. Here, in the small natural amphitheater discovered by Rev John DuBois, Mother Seton used to come and pray and teach the catechism to her students in this rustic setting.
Standing 95 feet high, the campanile was erected on the site of the original St Mary's Church. Topped with a glorious gold-leafed 25 feet high statue of the Virgin Mary that can be seen for miles around, the tower was erected in 1965. The Virgin seems to be rising from the forest above Mount St Mary's University below.
I have no idea how many replicas of the French original there are in the World - probably easy enough to google though, I imagine. This is the second I have visited, the other being in ArgentinaL%*. The grotto is built near the site of the old original St Mary's church where St Elizabeth Ann Seton used to worship. Originally, the grotto was discovered by one of the fathers - Rev John DuBois - who found a small creek that flowed around a large oak tree caused a small depression. He erected a cross above and the site became a local place for refuge and prayer. The grotto was later made to look like the one in southern France where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubriuos on 18 different occasions. The Grotto is located above the Mount St Mary's University that impresses you from the road of US 15. It is marked by a large campanile topped with a gold-leafed statue of the Virgin Mary. As you walk back to the grotto from the large parking lot, you will pass the various Stations of the Cross - here represented upon bronze plaques which replaced earlier wooden representations - to get you into the proper mindset.
Mother Seton's Sisters of Charity had been renamed the Daughters of Charity after 1850. They were prominent in providing nursing and compassionate work to those affected by the horrible fighting at nearby Gettysburg. The sad story of Union Maj. Gen. John Reynolds and his fiance Catherine (Kate) Hewitt is told on one of the Civil War Traveler tablets in the Basilica parking lot. They had met three years earlier and had become secretly engaged, sailing out from San Francisco together and exchanging rings. Their betrothal was to be announced to his family on July 8, 1863, but Reynolds was killed on the first day of Gettysburg. Kate entered into religious life afterwards as a result of a promise if something were to happen to Reynolds. She joined the Daughters of Charity in the spring of 1864 and lived a religious life until she renounced her orders four years later when she left the stage of history as the tablet relates.