This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Teacher of Souls: Elizabeth Ann Seton, Theologian




Goldschmidt, Paige

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




This thesis is an analysis of Elizabeth Anne Seton’s conversion to Catholicism. It is also a discussion of her interpretation of traditional Catholic doctrine and eventual teaching and systemization of it within the American Catholic Church. This thesis argues that Seton should be considered a theologian because of her analysis of communion, transubstantiation, penance, and suffering. It also identifies the role that republican motherhood played in the solidification of her theologies in the structure of the Catholic Church. Seton played an important role in establishing a foothold in America for the eventuality of Catholicism becoming the largest denomination in America. She helped Americanize the faith, combining Protestant rituals with Catholic, making a uniquely American form of Catholicism. While the Americanized form of Catholicism did not last, Seton’s impact should not be diminished. Her ability to convert people based upon her own interpretations and her unique theologies should make people recognize her as the theologian she was.