Born in 1774, Elizabeth was a New Yorker who married rich, moved to lower Manhattan, and enjoyed a prominent social life until the bankruptcy and early death of her husband. It was only then that she converted to Catholicism, beginning her path to becoming the first American-born saint.
To support herself and her five children, Elizabeth opened a girls school: first, a secular one. When that failed, she moved to rural Maryland and opened the first free Catholic school in America. (In 2014, President Obama gifted the original key to Elizabeth’s school to Pope Francis.) When she died, she was buried in a quiet plot of Maryland land she’d called “God’s little acre.”