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The tragedy of loss, the triumph of faith. The true story of Elizabeth Bayley Seton.
For Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton life was never easy, but throughout all of life’s trials her faith in God sustained her. A Time For Miracles tells the story of the first American born citizen to be named a Catholic saint--Elizabeth Ann Seaton (played by Kate Mulgrew). This classic Emmy nominated film portrays the life of the beloved saint who struggled through the loss of her worldly wealth, survived death of her beloved husband and two children, founded a school and religious order. Viewers of all ages will be inspired by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton’s great faith and courage in the face of many trials, and will enjoy the classic retelling of her life in A Time For Miracles.
Elizabeth Ann Seaton was born only two years before the American Revolution to a prominent Episcopalian New York family. Though her mother died when she was very small, Elizabeth’s father--a wealthy doctor--sought to care for all her needs. He believed in education for women, and Elizabeth would become a voracious reader, especially of the Bible. Though her family was high in New York society, Elizabeth lead a quiet often lonely life, and she found continual comfort in Scripture. When she was nineteen, Elizabeth married the young and wealthy William Seaton, and the two moved to Wall Street. The couple had a happy marriage, and would have five children together: Anna, William Jr., Richard, Catherine, and Rebecca. Within four years of the couple’s happy union, however, William’s father died, and William and Elizabeth would take on the care of William’s seven younger siblings in addition to their own five children. Elizabeth’s early life is briefly covered in A Time For Miracles, but the events following her marriage are played out in greater detail.
Following the death of his father, William Seaton’s good fortune deteriorated rapidly. An international dispute lead to the loss of many of his ships, and the Seaton’s (who dealt in import and sea trade) lost their fortune. In addition, William, who suffered from tuberculosis, saw a quick deterioration in his health. In the hopes of saving William’s health, Elizabeth, her oldest daughter, and her husband sailed for Italy. Sadly, William Seaton died while in Italy, leaving Elizabeth devastated. Elizabeth and her daughter would sail home to America shortly after William’s death, but during her time in Italy Elisabeth had been introduced to the Catholic church. At this point in the film A Time For Miracles Elisabeth Ann Seaton’s story is told in greater detail.
The loss of her beloved husband, and eventually two of her daughters, only strengthened Elizabeth’s faith, however. She courageously embraced God’s will--or “The Will” as she called it--and grew closer to her Heavenly Father throughout these early trials. Needing to support her remaining children and her husband’s young siblings, Elizabeth Ann Seaton began a school for young ladies in New York. During this time she was continually drawn to the Catholic Church, and officially joined in 1805. Elizabeth would soon move to Maryland in order to establish the first free Catholic school in the nation, and she would soon begin plans for a Sisterhood that would care for the poor. The founding of the school and sisterhood are some of the most beautiful scenes in A Time For Miracles. In 1809 Elizabeth Ann Seaton, while still continuing to raise her children, pronounced her vows and thereafter was called Mother Seaton.
Elizabeth Ann Seaton devoted the rest of her life to establishing the sisterhood, which, by 1818, had founded an additional school and two orphanages. Though suffering from tuberculosis (which would eventually claim her life) Elizabeth Ann Seaton graciously loved others with great kindness, patience, and wit. Besides focusing on her life, the film A Time For Miracles also portrays James Cardinal Gibbons’ attempts to discover Elizabeth Ann Seaton’s fourth miracle which would allow her to be canonized.
Though her story is inspiring in itself, viewers can also learn much from Elizabeth Ann Seaton’s example, and A Time For Miracles is richly sprinkled with these valuable lessons. Her early life serves as an example that even when life is easy and full of blessings individuals should be seeking to build a relationship with their Heavenly Father for they never know when difficult times may come. Her struggles and faith serve as a reminder to trust completely in the goodness of God’s will, and to lean on him for comfort and protection. Her sweet personality itself, which is seen vividly in the film A Time For Miracles, serves as valuable reminders of important character traits. Patience, which was exemplified in Elizabeth Ann Seaton’s life of constant toil and heartbreak. Kindness, which shines in her desire to educate all classes of people, and her founding of the Daughters of Charity. Her great love which never wavered and embraced every individual she encountered, despite the heartache of losing a mother, husband, and two children. Her wit and joy, which, though tested time and time again, always seemed to find a way to the surface of her heart once more. The life of Elizabeth Ann Seaton will encourage, challenge, and inspire viewers of all ages and backgrounds. Not only will the film A Time For Miracles introduce you to a great lady, however, but you will gain hope along the way. This is a fascinating Christian movie with an incredible plot and magnificent storytelling. There’s so much that can be grasped from the life of Elizabeth Ann Seaton.
A Time For Miracles has not been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, and may include topics and issues not suitable for younger viewers. This film did, however, receive the “Family Approved” award for ages twelve and up from the Dove Foundation. As always, it is recommended that parents preview all content to determine what is suitable for their children, but the film A Time For Miracles is considered appropriate for most audiences.