On June 16, 1808, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton arrived at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore on the same day that Bishop John Carroll, the first bishop in the United States, dedicated the seminary’s newly built chapel. Elizabeth came to Baltimore from New York to start a boarding school for girls. During her one-year stay in what is now the Mother Seton House, she took the vows of a Daughter of Charity, thus cementing her conversion and commitment to Catholicism. Following her start in Baltimore, Mother Seton, as Bishop Carroll dubbed her, went on to found Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School in Emmitsburg, the first catholic school for girls in America, and the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, the first apostolic community of women in the United States.
As if this were not enough history, the St. Mary’s Spiritual Center site is also the original home of St. Mary’s Seminary, the first in America. Although the seminary moved to its current location on Northern Parkway some years ago, its extraordinary chapel is still there. The chapel was completed in 1808 and designed by Maximilian Godefroy, the architect of many important Baltimore structures including the Battle Monument and First Unitarian Church. Godefroy even boasted that the chapel was the first Gothic building in the United States. The great hoop shape of its interior is similar to the interior of the chapel at Versailles, and its use of Georgian details reflects the complexities of early American architecture.
Please join us and our hosts from the St. Mary’s Spiritual Center and Historic Site for a tour of the Mother Seton House and Godefroy Chapel that hold so much history.