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posted by alias Themarrero on Saturday 9th of January 2016 06:14:14 PM

A pair of edifices that are so out of place in their location surrounded by modern concrete, glass and steel high-rise structures that their ambiguity is probably that they are so out of place where they are on State Street directly across from the Whitehall Staten Island Ferry Terminal at the southernmost tip of Manhattan. Truly a juxtaposition of old and new, the Federal-style brick colonial building at 7 State Street dates back to 1793 when first President George Washington delivered his second terms inaugural speech and its attached shrine at 8 State Street are the vestiges of the old New York and it rich history. It is the shrine of the first American-born canonized by the Catholic Church, Saint Elizabeth Seton, though the 1793 Federal-style brick building now stands next to where home that Elizabeth Seton would have been. Elizabeth was born Elizabeth Bayley in August of 1774 in New York City just as the American colonists were starting to organize themselves against the British Crown. So when General George Washington and his Continental Army were routed by the British Army early in the American Revolutionary war in New York City and hastily retreated across the Hudson to New Jersey, Elizabeth was among the many New Yorkers who remained during the long occupation of New York by the British soldiers. She grew up basically during the revolution and experienced the hardships and sacrifice that was afforded to the rebellious colonists in the occupied city. Elizabeth was from a well-to-do Episcopalian family with roots to the French Huguenots who founded New Rochelle upstate. Elizabeth’s Father was Doctor Richard Bayley who was the first New York City Health Officer for the Port of New York whose primary role in that capacity was assessing immigrants and travelers passing through New York. Doctor Bayley was also a professor of anatomy at King’s College, the precursor of today’s Columbia University. Doctor Bayley died of complications of yellow fever he contracted while caring for a boatload of Irish immigrants in 1801. Before that though young Elizabeth married a young aristocratic shipping merchant William Seton who it turns out was one of Wall Street’s first venture capitalist, investing in New York’s shipping business as it became one of the world’s richest ports. Elizabeth socialized with the high and mighty of New York at the time, including in 1797 working with wife of Alexander Hamilton to organize New York City’s first private charity at Trinity Church, The Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Children. The undeclared war with France the early 19th Century had a very negative adverse affect on the shipping business and the William went bankrupt. William, Elizabeth and their five children moved into a house here at 8 State Street as he sought to recover from his financial woes. William Seton fell ill to further complicate matters and the family traveled to Italy with aid from one of his Catholic business partners with hopes that William would recover. Tragically, William passed away soon after arriving in Pisa, leaving the widow Elizabeth and one daughter that had traveled with them in despair. William’s business partner, the Filicchi family of Leghorn, Italy, lessened the impact of Williams loss by caring for and providing for Elizabeth and her daughter. Elizabeth was so deeply touched by their devout Catholicism and charity that upon her return to New York City in 1805, she converted to Catholic at Saint Peters the city’s only Roman Catholic Church much to her family’s dismay. Many of her old friends and acquaintances shunned her at this point as she and her five children struggled. In 1808 Elizabeth Seton received an invitation that took her to Baltimore where she opened a Catholic school for girls. She opened Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School which considered the first and got the ball rolling on the Catholic parochial school system in the United States. It was in Baltimore that Elizabeth founded America’s first religious order, Sisters of Charity. The Sisters of Charity have gone on to establish educational institutions, hospitals and social welfare agencies. The College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown New Jersey where my youngest daughter is a junior studying psychology was founded by the Sisters of Charity and is named after Elizabeth Seton which provide scholarships to deserving young ladies looking to better themselves. Elizabeth before her death at age 46 continued to work for the benefit of others, continuing her charitable and humanitarian efforts and founding additional schools in New Jersey and New York. She was canonized in 1975 the first American-born saint in history. Today at 8 State Street stands the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary named for the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary which is not related to the Elizabeth Seton and the Sisters of Charity but are very much in the spirit of Elizabeth’s charity founded in 1883 helping over 100,000 Irish young ladies get shelter, jobs and reconnecting with relatives already in the states. In 1912 when the RMS Titanic tragically sank in the North Atlantic many women from steerage were housed at this location. Seton’s shrine is housed in adjacent wing and the beautiful 1793 Federal-style brick building at 7 State Street the only survivor of New York’s first era of great mansions serves as the rectory for the Shrine of Saint Elizabeth. The tapered iconic columns are rumored to come from genuine ships masts. Captured with an Olympus E-5 using a Olympus Zuiko 12-60MM F 2.8-4.0 SWD lens, processed in Adobe Photoshop Elements and cleaned up in Adobe Lightroom. spcolr.org/st-seton-shrine-1



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