We haven’t spoken in this account of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton about any visions, locutions or mysticism. Quite honestly, that’s because we haven’t come across anything of that nature. And Mother Seton had always been a very down-to-earth, practical woman. However, the time was to come when the Lord would decide when the community would be built, where it would be built, and how it would be financed. And that information had to be projected to Mother Seton.
This question had been rolling around for some time in Elizabeth’s mind. She even wrote to Antonio Filicchi in Italy, in an attempt borrow money for the building of the convent, but although her letter reached him, his reply never reached her. She took this as rejection at first, until a year later when his letter arrived, long after the fact. But it is obvious that she was throwing out feelers. Whoever the Lord wanted to be involved, would respond in a positive way. That was Elizabeth’s thinking. However, the Lord unfolded another plan, His plan.
One day, Elizabeth ran into the office of Fr. Dubourg to tell him what the Lord had clearly said to her during Communion at Mass that day. “Go and address yourself to Mr. Cooper; he will give you what is necessary to commence the establishment.” Now, this could be considered by some as being out of left field. Mr. Samuel Cooper was a well-to-do young man from Philadelphia who had converted to Catholicism, and was discerning if the priesthood was where the Lord wanted him. He met Elizabeth when Fr. Hurley brought him to Baltimore for the consecration of St. Mary’s Chapel. They had become close friends for a while, because they had so much in common. They went their separate ways in their search for God’s Will in their lives, but remained friends and were in communication with each other from time to time. They had not seen each other for a while, and so the suggestion had to come from the Lord; it didn’t come from Elizabeth.
Fr. Dubourg agreed that this might be the Word of the Lord, but didn’t want Elizabeth to pursue it any farther until the Lord had an opportunity to speak to Mr. Cooper’s heart. By the Lord’s coincidence, Mr. Cooper dropped in on Fr. Dubourg that same
evening, asking what was happening with the convent for the ladies who wanted to embrace the religious life. Without mentioning anything about Elizabeth Seton to Mr. Cooper, he shared that there were many who wanted to proceed with this project, but they couldn’t for lack of money. Mr. Cooper said to him quite calmly, “I have ten thousand dollars which I can give you for this purpose.” Bingo!
Fr. Dubourg, who believed in Divine Intervention as well as the next man, was knocked from his seat. He asked, in an effort at calmness, “Have you been speaking to Elizabeth Ann Seton?” Mr. Cooper said he had not, but then asked if she would be considered as heading up the project. When Fr. Dubourg confirmed that, Mr. Cooper seemed very happy with the idea. Fr. Dubourg held him off for two months, in the event he wanted to change his mind. To the contrary, he was chomping at the bit to begin. He immediately became involved with the project of building a convent for the Sisters. He even prophesied where it would be located. When he brought the money to Fr. Dubourg, he said, “Sir, this establishment will be made at Emmitsburg, a village eighteen leagues from Baltimore; and then it will extend throughout the United States.”
At the mention of Emmitsburg, the priest was taken aback. He did not really approve of the idea of being out of Baltimore. Neither did Elizabeth Seton; neither did the archbishop. Of all the people involved, only Mr. Cooper saw the vision of Emmitsburg, and while he vowed he would not exert any influence in choosing the location, Emmitsburg was the final choice.
Elizabeth wrote to Filippo Filicchi, apprising him what had happened, and now, rather than asking him for money to build the project, she invited him to be involved in any way he could with Fr. Dubourg and Mr. Cooper. In this letter to Filippo, she made an unusual revelation. The final proof for them that this was being done directly by the Lord was given to Elizabeth by Fr. Matignon, from Boston, who had befriended Elizabeth some years before. Elizabeth confided to Filippo Filicchi the following in a letter: “Fr. Matignon had suggested Cooper’s plan to Elizabeth long before Cooper himself had ever thought of it. It is no wonder that everyone concerned in the matter was profoundly convinced that the hand of God was writing on the wall.”
For more about Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton go here http://www.catholic-saints-resource-center.com/elizabeth-ann-seton.html