Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Finding the Catholic Faith in Livorno

Elizabeth Ann Bayley SetonElizabeth Ann Bayley Seton Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was the first native-born citizen of the United States to be made a Saint by the Catholic Church. It was during her stay in Livorno in 1803 that she first became close to the Catholic faith.

Born 28 August 1774 in New York, Elizabeth Bayley had a comfortable life in an affluent family, and at the age of 20 she married the wealthy young William Magee Seton (1768-1803). The first years of their marriage were happy and prosperous, but within a few years William’s family business began to fail, and he himself became ill.

In 1803 the Setons, with their eldest daughter, decided to come to Italy in an attempt to improve William’s health. Arriving in Livorno they were obliged to spend a month in quarantine in the cold stone lazzaretto of San Jacopo because of an outbreak of yellow fever in New York. William died of tuberculosis just two weeks after leaving the quarantine, in Pisa, on December 27th 1803. He was buried in the old English cemetery in Via Verdi, Livorno.

Church of Santa Giulia

Facade of the Church of Santa GiuliaFacade of the Church of Santa Giulia Close to the Duomo (on the left when facing the cathedral), this small church is dedicated to the patron saint of Livorno (feast day 22 May).

It was built in 1606 after the land was ceded to the Livornese by Ferdinando I. Three years later a small cemetery and an oratory were built at the rear of the church, of which only the oratory now remains. This is known as the Cappella di San Ranieri (St Ranier’s chapel).

Much of the church’s original decoration was lost in the war, but the ceiling was rebuilt in the original style. The church contains a number of the Saint’s relics, donated to Ferdinand’s wife by the bishop of Brescia in 1606.