Campus News

The History of the Abbey Cemetery

The History of the Abbey Cemetery

Walking down the path to the lake or to Apartments 1-4, one might noticed a short wall enclosing a tiny cemetery. Entering the cemetery, there are four raised headstones lined up behind one another. These headstones mark the resting place of the second (Francis Sadlier), third (Marion Bowman), fourth (Fidelis Dunlap), and fifth (Patrick Shelton) Abbots of the Saint Leo University Abbey. The first Abbot, Charles Mohr, was put to rest in the Grotto. Behind the Abbots’ headstones is a crucifix in front of and a small barrier wall. The right side of cemetery is the resting place of monks. The left side is shared with the Nuns and notable people related to the Abbey.

Behind the short barrier is the lone headstone of William B. Stevens (1928-2006), which is set off from the rest of the graves. According to Sr. Dorothy, the cemetery does not hold every nun and monk from Saint Leo, only the ones that died in the area or were returned to the area for burial.

In 1889, Br. Ambrose Andelfinger died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty. His entire family had died of tuberculosis and he hoped his health would improve at the Saint Leo Abbey. During this time, Benedictine monks were often sent to Saint Leo to recover their health, according to “Pioneer College.” His grave is the oldest in the Abbey Cemetery.

The first Nun of the Holy Name Convent to pass away was Sr. Agnes Behe; she died in 1894 at the age of 41. She was one of the five foundresses of Holy Name and one of the first teachers at its academy, according to “Pioneer College.”

In 1891, Frater Conrad Metzner (20) was the first student death. Metzner was an orphan supported by his uncle. He had been born in Saxony, Germany. He was accidentally shot in the temple by fellow student, Anthony Gonzales, with a .22 caliber rifle as they were returning to the college from a picnic. The rifle had been brought for target practice. Two other students helped him walk back to campus. He was pronounced dead the next morning, according to “Pioneer College.”

About seven years later in 1898, the first priesthood candidate from the college, Frater Dominic Schwarz, died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. His mother died later that year and his brothers died of tuberculosis over the next five years. Schwarz’s father, Thomas Schwarz, left his farm to become a lay brother after loosing his entire family. He took the religious name his son had taken and became the second member of the Abbey to go by Dominic Schwarz. He worked as a gardener for twenty years and died at the age of 77.

In 1896, the Dr. Corrigan donated a 1/3 acre triangle of land located between the college and the lake. This land became the site of the new cemetery in 1901. The six graves of the original cemetery were relocated between 1901 and 1902. Cedar trees were planted around the cemetery in 1905.

In 1910, the monks invited the nuns of the Holy Name Convent to use their burial ground. According to Sr. Dorothy, this arrangement was made after the nuns moved from their original home in San Antonio to Saint Leo. All nuns who had passed prior to this arrangement were moved to the Abbey Cemetery.

In 1918, the first student from Saint Leo to become a priest, Aloysios Delabar (38), died of tuberculosis. He died in North Carolina, but his body was returned to be buried in the Abbey Cemetery.

In 1940, Sr. Rose Marie Easley died at the age of 66. She had been elected superior at the age of 24 and held this position for 37 years. She is credited with stabilizing the community and working to improve local schools. She also opened Saint Benedict’s Prep School and established missions in Louisiana and Texas, according to “Pioneer College.”

The lay people in the cemetery are people who contributed to the Abbey and/or to the college in a significant way. Some of the graves are for workers who worked for the Abbey year-round and became close with the community. Some of the buildings on campus are named after people buried in this cemetery like the Crawfords (The recently demolished Crawford Hall) and Fr. Msgr. Roderick MacEachen (Roderick Hall). Abbot Mayeul De Caigney (1862-1939) from another Abbey is buried in the Abbey Cemetery because he retired to Saint Leo.

Due to limited space in the cemetery, both the nuns and the monks have started cremations. There are currently 179 people buried in the cemetery.

Categories: Campus News

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