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Mother Seton’s “Ecce Homo” Painting

by | Sep 13, 2020 | Formation | 0 comments

September 14 is the 45th anniversary of the canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1975.

Source: Seton Shrine (Facebook/@ElizabethAnnSeton,Youtube, Seton Shrine website)

In the first of their Virtual Exhibits, the Seton Shrine focused on Mother Seton’s Ecce Homo painting. Ecce Homo means “Behold the man,” and is what Pilate said when he condemned Jesus to death. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was gifted a painting of the Ecce Homo. This is a video interpretation of that painting done in partnership between the Seton Shrine and the Archives of the Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise.

To further meditate on the painting or to purchase your own Ecce Homo, visit the Seton Shrine website, here.

Background

Happily married, Elizabeth and William Magee Seton had five children: Anna Maria (1795-1812), William (1796-1868), Richard Bayley (1798-1823), Catherine Charlton (1800-1891), and Rebecca Mary (1802-1816).

Anna Maria, who had accompanied her parents to Italy in 1803, became afflicted with tuberculosis as an adolescent and made her vows as a Sister of Charity on her deathbed. Rebecca fell on ice sometime before 1812, causing a hip injury which resulted in lameness and early death, also from tuberculosis. Both Anna Maria and Rebecca are buried in the original cemetery of the Sisters of Charity at Emmitsburg, Maryland.

– Source: emmitsburg.net

Sadly, Rebecca Seton, Elizabeth Ann Seton’s youngest child, only lived to be 14 years old.

from the Journal of Rebecca’s Illness, 1816
This 73-page manuscript was written by Elizabeth Seton and Rev. Simon Brute, S.S., and included some of Rebecca’s own writings. This portion was written by Elizabeth Seton:

Rebecca up most of the night after her most simple but earnest devout preparation for Communion with your ecce homo, at which she would still look in silence when 1 would have wished her rather to turn to rest. –“how many a good thought it gives me” said she after drenching in her night sweat and restless pain-and then so recollected and peaceable she received HIM (even in white cap and cape) at the door of the choir— poor darling you could hardly see a simple, self-possessed little heart, running her finger under the words of the prayers she delights in— the only sigh I heard with a full rest of the finger was at the words of one little prayer “Cross of Jesus support me”* “how beautiful dear Mother, but 102** the favorite.”

*This line appears in the prayer Anima Christi composed by St. Ignatius Loyola. It was a favorite of Elizabeth.
**Ps. 102 is Ps. 103 in contemporary Catholic Bibles.

Source: Seton “Collected Writings: Volume 2(2002) p. 434

Psalm 103

New International Version

1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.

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