St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery



Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery was established in 1854 as a result of the Yellow Fever Epidemic. Saint Mary's is one of the oldest monument cemeteries in the area and comprises one of only eight Catholic cemeteries throughout the state of Virginia.

Although records indicate that Saint Mary's Cemetery was established in 1854, there are several monuments and headstones on the property with inscribed death dates prior to that time. The oldest graves that could be located were that of Margaret Ann Barry who died in 1826, Thomas Moran who passed away in 1833, and Eugene Higgins who died in 1836. It is believed that these individuals along with many others were buried in the churchyard of Saint Mary's Church in downtown Norfolk and then later interred at Saint Mary's Cemetery in 1854 or sometime thereafter.

• Celiney Yasbeck Decker - Titanic survivor
• Ismael Ala - First, Philippino-American to serve on a U.S. submarine
• Louie G. Plummer - Major league baseball hall of fame inductee
• Monsignor Thomas E. Waters - Builder of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Norfolk
• Sisters of Charity - Served as teachers at local Catholic schools and as nurses at DePaul Medical Center, Norfolk
• Barry family lot - Largest lot in the cemetery: 72 graves
• Michael Glennan - Confederate Major and founder of Virginian-Pilot Newspaper
• Rev. Lawrence O'Connell - Confederate chaplain, professor, and vice president of St. Mary's College, Columbia, SC
• White-Lenney family lot - 12 grave lot encased in concrete

• Civil War: Michael Glennan 1843-1899 (CSA)
• Spanish-Amerìcan War: John J. Plato (dates unknown) (USA)
• World War I: Frank Preziotti 1893-1957 (USA)
• World War I: Gregorio F. Ocate 1875-1962 (USCG)
• World War II/Korea/Vietnam: Joseph P. Wulzer 1919-1973 (USAF)
• World War II/Korea: Falcome G. Brammer 1915-1977 (USN)
• World War II/Korea: Donald E. Hofford 1924-1965 (USMC)
• World War II/Korea: Mary F. Hofford 1915-1988 (USMC)
• World War II: John V. Johnson Sr. 1926-1991 (USA)
• Vietnam: John V. Johnson Jr. 1947-1968 (USA-KIA)
• Canadian Forces: Albert L. McCoy 1881-1940

1. The Decosi Mausoleum
Erected around 1936 measures 11'x16'18'. It is unique to the other four mausoleums in that it has a black shingled roof with aluminum guttering and downspouts. Located in the northwest section of the cemetery, the structure is very visible from Church Street. The mausoleum has an a-frame design and is constructed of red brick with granite supports and a white marble interior. Double cast iron doors control the entrance to the above ground tomb. A seven foot concrete walkway leads up to the structure that is surrounded by a metal railing with granite supports. The Decosi Mausoleum contains two crypts and is the only mausoleum of the five that is still maintained by surviving family members.

2. The Shanly Mausoleum
Erected around 1898 and measuring 12'x14'x14' is located at the north end of the cemetery. Similar to the Decosi Mausoleum, this structure has an a-frame roof. The mausoleum has a granite exterior and a white marble interior. Twin cast iron doors control the entrance to the structure containing six crypts. A stained glass window measuring 18"x48" is located at the rear with a one-step granite walkway leading to the entrance.

3. The Murphy Mausoleum
Erected around 1928 and measuring 5'x10'x7' is located in the center of the cemetery and almost directly behind the large bronze crucifix. Its construction is totally white marble with a flat roof. The structure contains two crypts protected by twin sealed doors. Twin white marble planters placed in front and on each side of the mausoleum are separated by a six foot white marble walkway leading up to this impressive structure.

4. The Quinn Mausoleum
Measuring 10'x13'x7', is located approximately 50 yards inside the property and south of the main entrance road. The structure is situated near the largest oak tree in the cemetery. The mausoleum is of a half oval or mounded design and constructed of red brick and concrete with granite supports. The entrance to the mausoleum is sealed in concrete. In the early 1960's concrete was placed over an aged and weathered cast iron door to prevent water seepage and vandalism. It is unknown when the mausoleum was built or the number of crypts contained within.

5. The Andrews/Higgins Mausoleum
Located just inside and to the right of the main entrance. This structure is identical to the Quinn Mausoleum with the half oval or mounded design and measures 10'x13'x7'. It was constructed with red brick and concrete along with granite supports on each end. Twin cast iron doors seal the entrance. It is unknown when the mausoleum was constructed or how many Crypts are contained within.

1. Bisese Lot
a. Two identical two foot high white marble angel statues atop a three foot high white marble base.
b. 3 ½ foot high white marble statue of Joseph/Mary/child Jesus atop a three foot high white marble base.

2. Amato Lot
a. Five foot high white marble statue of the Virgin Mary holding a ring of flowers and glancing downward over the graves.
b. Six foot high white marble statue of Jesus looking down with arms partially stretched out and praying over the graves.

3 . Clark Lot
a. Four foot high white marble angel statue atop a five foot high white marble base. The angel is seen praying over the graves.
b. Facing the opposite direction, an identical four foot high white marble angel statue atop a four foot high white marble base. The angel is seen looking downward and reading the Bible. (image)

4. Rehpelz Monument
Two 2 foot high white marble headstones atop a five foot wide white marble base. Between the two headstones is a two foot high statue of the Virgin Mary. A short prayer is inscribed on the base of the monument. Twin white marble vases are positioned on each side of the headstones.

5. The Andrews Monument
Erected after 1886 is situated between the Andrews/Higgins Mausoleum and the Dodd Mausoleum on the cemetery's west side. It is a unique gothic style oval monument constructed of granite and measures 15 ½ feet in diameter at its widest point. A 14" high granite cross rests atop this impressive marker. The monument is one of only two oval shaped monuments in the cemetery.

6. Conway Monument
A white marble vertical column approximately 25 feet high. On the east side of the column a crucifix is displayed atop small boulders. Below the Crucifix are two Bible inscriptions. Below the inscriptions is a depiction of the sacred heart of Jesus surrounded by palm branches.

7. Flynn headstone
Erected after 1894 is probably the most unique marker in the cemetery. Located at the south end of the cemetery, the marker is constructed of limestone and concrete and measures 21'x16'x4½'. It resembles an antique cash register or rolltop desk with the decedents name and date of death inscribed on a scroll.

8. D'Este headstone
Erected after 1924 is located approximately 50 yards south of the bronze crucifix. The marker measures 20"x12"x39". The top ten inches of this white marble headstone is oval shaped with a white marble chain encircling the oval and piercing a scrolled inscription of the deceased. Palm branches are etched out on each side of the scroll.

9. Scotece Lot
An impressive six foot high white marble statue of Jesus standing in front of a seven foot high granite cross. The statue and cross are located on the cemetery's east end.

Two priests lots and two Sister of Charity lots make up the religious orders interred at Saint Mary's Cemetery. The older priests lot is located at the northwest section of the cemetery where 18 priests lie interred. The other priests lot is located on the site of the cemetery's large bronze crucifix. To date, 10 priests lie interred in front of the crucifix. The older Sisters of Charity lot is located along the southwest side of the Cemetery where 60 nuns lie interred. The other Sisters of Charity lot is located toward the rear or east end of the Cemetery where four nuns lie interred. This lot is marked by a six foot high granite cross positioned in the center of the lot.

The infant/child section is located approximately 100 yards inside the property and south of the main entrance road. Currently there have been 344 infants and children buried in this section of the cemetery with the first interment recorded in 1943. Numerous one foot and two foot white marble angel and lamb statues along with small granite headstones can be observed atop most of the graves. Several large oak and cedar trees accentuate the landscape in this serene setting. Located in the cemetery's northwest section, there is a lot dedicated to Saint Mary's Home for Disabled Children. Currently there are 30 infants buried on this lot with the first interment recorded in April 1951.

Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery was found to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) in December 1996 (Register Evaluation Rating Sheet, dated December 19, 1996). The VDHRS evaluation team evaluated the cemetery for NRHP eligibility under criterion C (design/construction) and gave its integrity a rating of 6 on a scale of 0-8. The Intensive Level Survey Report states, "The property retains integrity of association, design, feeling, location, material, and workmanship".

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3000 Church Street, Norfolk, VA