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200 Year Celebration at
National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

(7/14)  Around the time of July 31, 1809, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton and her small band of women arrived in what is now known today as Emmitsburg, Maryland, a historic town located in northern Frederick County in Maryland. Today, 200 years later, her legacy continues to inspire people of all ages and walks of life. Over 45,000 visitors come to the Seton Shrine yearly to pray, visit, and learn of her life. Join us in celebrating this historic bicentennial event on the grounds of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, 333 South Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg.

The celebration weekend opens with a variety of events. Throughout the weekend you and your family can tour the Shrine grounds and historic buildings, attend information sessions, see a live Civil War encampment, attend liturgies, and premiere our newest DVD, The Seton Legacy. On Sunday, August 2, our beautiful new prayer garden will be blessed and a live reenactment procession will be seen of Mother Seton walking from Mount St. Mary’s Grotto to the Seton Shrine grounds. An original Conestoga wagon, pulled by horses, will lead the procession and will be on site for photo opportunities.

"Many consider their visit to the Seton Shrine as a time of grace," remarked Sister Betty Ann McNeil, DC, Provincial Archivist. "Walking on holy ground where a Saint lived, prayed, and died is a privilege. How much more so, on the 200th anniversary of her arrival in this ‘valley of blessings,’ the founding site and cradle of the Sisters and Daughters of Charity in North America. This bicentennial will be quite a birthday party!"

Out of town visitors may find special lodging pricing at various hotels in Frederick. Look for the special listings marked by our Seton Legacy logo. The listing can be found at, under the News and Events section as Frederick Lodging.

Visitors food court, information tent, and numerous water and comfort stations will be scattered throughout the grounds. Parking will be available on the Seton Shrine grounds each of the three days. On August 2, anyone wishing to walk in the reenactment procession may attend Mass at the Glass Chapel at the Grotto, park at the Grotto, and then ride the shuttle back to the Grotto after spending a glorious day at the Seton Shrine.

Events and times are listed below. A more complete agenda is available on our web site,

Bicentennial Celebration Weekend Schedule

Friday, July 31, 2009 to Sunday, August 2, 2009

Events and activities are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Visitor services will include an information center, water stations, comfort stations, and an outdoor food court with an assortment of food and refreshments for purchase.

FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2009

The Seton Shrine historic sites will be open as usual beginning at 10:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m., with the exception of the Stone House and White House, which close at 5:00 p.m. The opening celebration in the Basilica begins at 7:00 p.m., ending at 8:45 p.m., and is open to the public. Following will be a premiere showing of "The Seton Legacy" DVD.


Today’s events open with a Eucharistic Liturgy in the Basilica and the public is invited. The Main Celebrant is His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI, President of the US Council of Catholic Bishops. Throughout the day visitors may enjoy visiting the Seton Shrine sites, viewing a Civil War Encampment on both days, viewing "The Seton Legacy" DVD, and participating in informational sessions (that will be held in the morning and afternoon). Concurrent session topics include:

Charity Matters, an exhibit of archival treasures including 19th c. embroidery, tapestry, paintings, and a display on the education of women, by Sister Betty Ann McNeil, D.C.

Emmitsburg Catholic Heritage Tour (bus),

Docent will accompany bus and give a guided tour to historic Emmitsburg sites. Includes restored St. Joseph College Chapel, the Grotto, and historic St. Joseph’s Church in Emmitsburg.

Walking Tour of Seton Shrine Historic Sites,

Docents will accompany group and highlight the history of Mother Seton’s community in St. Joseph’s valley.

For more information, or to sign up for concurrent sessions, please contact: the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton 301-447-6606 or at

Beginning at 7:00 p.m. through 8:15 p.m., wrap up your day’s visit by attending a Concert in the Basilica to listen to 19th century music popular in the time of Elizabeth Ann Seton.


The events will begin with two Masses – one at the Glass Chapel at the Grotto of Lourdes at Mount Saint Mary’s University and catch a shuttle to the Seton Shrine, or at the Basilica at the Seton Shrine. Key events you won’t want to miss include:

  • The live reenactment of Mother Seton’s walk to Saint Joseph’s Valley begins at 9:00 a.m. You may walk with the procession from the Grotto to the Seton Shrine following Mass, or witness the live reenactment coming to the Seton Shrine at 10:15 a.m.
  • Blessing of the Seton Legacy Garden;
  • Bicentennial Celebration Eucharistic Liturgy at 12 noon (ticketed admission only due to limited space).
  • Stay and enjoy the serenity of our hallowed grounds and visit the Seton Shrine and Museum.