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"St. Mary's Catholic Church & Cemetery - Old Town" Top 5 Page for this destination Alexandria Off The Beaten Path Tip by Ewingjr98

Alexandria Off The Beaten Path: 66 reviews and 218 photos

St. Mary's Catholic Church was founded in 1795 and is the oldest Catholic parish in Virginia. The original church was established by Revolutionary War veteran Colonel John Fitzgerald, and it is said that George Washington was the first to donate money for construction. The original church was constructed on the southern edge of Old Town where St. Mary's Cemetery and school are located today. But this site was too distant from central Alexandria, so it was decided to be moved into town.

The second St Mary's Catholic Church was a facility purchased from the local Methodist congregation in 1810. This church was built in 1791, and was located on Chapel Alley in Old Town. This property is still part of St. Mary's grounds.

William Thorton Alexander deeded the church's current location to St. Mary’s in 1803, and the structure was completed in 1826.

In 1969 and 1976 Pope John Paul visited Alexandria, VA and St. Mary's Catholic Church.

St. Mary's the oldest public Catholic Cemetery in Virginia and the oldest active cemetery in Alexandria. The first burial was recorded in 1798 and the cemetery contains grave sites of soldiers, slaves, free blacks, and whites.

The plaque at the cemetery entrance reads "This stone taken from the canal of the Potomac Company of which Washington and Fitzgerald were Directors commemorates the erection of the First Catholic Church in Virginia, A. D. 1795, which stood until 1839 about twenty feet behind this marker.

In grateful acknowledgment of their aid in establishing this church the three trees to the north of this stone have been dedicated as follows to General George Washington as subscriber to the building, Colonel John Fitzerald, his favorite Aide de Camp, as the collector of the building fund, Colonel Robert Hooe, Major of Alexandria, as the donor of the acre of land.

In commemoration of the bicentennial of the birth of George Washington this tablet was donated by the Holy Name Society of Sacred Heart Church (Vailsburg), Newark, N.J. on the 135rd anniversary of the funeral of Colonel John Fitzgerald, December 4, 1932."

othercontact: 310 South Royal Street
Phone: 703-836-4100

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 24, 2009
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