St Mary's I - History

St Mary's I - History

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St. Mary's I

(Gal.: Ibp. 52'; b. 15'; dph. 5'8"; cpl.28; a. 1 24-pdr., 5 how.)

The first St. Mary's a galley, was built on the St. Marys River in Georgia in 1798. One of seven galleys constructed and equipped by the Navy for operation under the War Department on coast defense duty during the Quasi-War with France, St. Mary's officers were appointed by the Secretary of the Navy, while the remainder of her crew was composed of local recruits.

Commanded by Captain of a Galley John Braddock St. Mary's cruised off the Georgia coast from 1798 to 1801 to protect local commerce and coastal settlements from armed French vessels operating in the area. She was transferred to the Revenue Cutter Service in 1802.

A History of Saint Mary Catholic Church

The history of the Catholic Church in Goldsboro dates back to the time when James Cardinal Gibbons, then Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina, came through town on horseback. Mass was celebrated in a private home, that of Mrs. Hannah E. Freeman, on North William Street. Her home was the home of the priests for many years whenever they came to Goldsboro.

Another prominent figure in the early history of St. Mary Parish was Dr. John Robinson, who came here from Ireland in 1847. He had a chapel constructed on his property near the corner of John and Vine Streets around 1854. This chapel was used for Mass, weddings and funerals for a number of years. A large crucifix which he brought with him from Ireland was used in the chapel and later given to the parish as a gift of the Robinson family. This crucifix became an important piece of our parish history.

In 1886 the Reverend Thomas Frederick Price, the first parochial priest in Goldsboro, began collecting funds for the erection of a future church. A number of events such as fairs, bazaars, and raffles were held, and Father Price also went north to procure additional funds. The original St. Mary Church building was finally begun, completed and dedicated in 1889, at the corner of William and Mulberry Streets. The mission church served the five local Catholic families who made up the parish at that time: the Freemans, Robinsons, Griswolds, Kolbs, and Piedmonts. Father Price served the mission parish until 1895. He later left North Carolina to become the co-founder of the Maryknoll Fathers, a community of foreign mission priests.
In 1915, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Arthur Raine Freeman was assigned as the first resident pastor of St. Mary Parish. The grandson of one of the original members, Arthur Freeman had turned the first spadeful of dirt at the groundbreaking of the church building in 1889. During his sixteen years as pastor, Father Freeman built the rectory, installed gas heat, pews, the organ and the church bell. He also started churches in Wilson, Kinston, and Mount Olive as missions of St. Mary Church. He began raising funds for a school, and on September 8, 1927, St. Mary School opened with 45 students enrolled in grades one through seven. The school was staffed by three Sisters of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Scranton, Pennsylvania. In April 1931 Father Freeman was designated Chancellor of the newly-erected Diocese of Raleigh and Rector of the Cathedral.

In the mid-thirties, Sacred Heart Parish was opened in Goldsboro and staffed by the Redemptorist Fathers. They worked among the black people of Goldsboro and Wayne County. This parish was in existence until 1969 when the diocese merged Sacred Heart with St. Mary Church.
In the early 1950's, Msgr. Edward T. Gilbert, pastor of St. Mary's,purchased property at the corner of Edgerton Street and Jefferson Avenue. Plans were drawn for a total parish community at the new site. St. Mary's School and Convent were erected first and completed in December 1956.
The bishop decided to split St. Mary Parish in 1962. A new parish was dedicated under the title of St. Bernadette and joined to St. Mary's School. Parishioners attended Mass in the school auditorium.

In July 1977 the original St. Mary's Parish downtown was merged with St. Bernadette's and St. Mary's School at the Edgerton/Jefferson location. Planning began for a new church building. The downtown property was sold in 1978 and by 1982 parish finances had stabilized adequately to move ahead with the plans. Formal groundbreaking ceremonies were held on October 21, 1984, and actual construction began on February 7, 1985. The new church building was dedicated on January 12, 1986.

The large crucifix in our church today was brought from the original St. Mary Church building. It has long been known as "The Robinson Crucifix", and is a cherished part of our history. It was refurbished in 1985 before being placed in the new church. The marble used throughout the church also came from the original building.

St. Mary Parish grew from approximately 400 families in the mid-eighties to approximately 700 families in 2005. In response to an increasing number of Hispanic parishioners, a weekly Spanish liturgy is offered each Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
since July 1990, St. Mary Church has been staffed/administered by priests of the religious community, Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. Their mission is to spread the gospel through the charism of Salesian Spirituality based on the writings and preaching of their Patron St. Francis de Sales.

The Diocese of Raleigh graduated its first class of permanent deacons on November 12, 2004. Reverend Deacon Webster A. James was assigned that month as the first permanent deacon at St. Mary Parish.

St. Mary School continues its long tradition of academic excellence, serving students today from pre-school through grade eight. The Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary also maintains a presence on the faculty, having served the school since it was established in 1927.

With the support of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, the Rev. Aldert Smedes founded Saint Mary&rsquos as a school for young women, "designed to furnish a thorough and excellent education equal to the best that can be obtained in the city of New York, or in any Northern school." The school was founded on the site of the Episcopal School of North Carolina, a short-lived school for boys in the 1830s. Three of the present school buildings―East Rock, West Rock and Smedes Hall―formed the original campus. East Rock and West Rock, the first two buildings, were constructed with remnant stones from the construction of the North Carolina state capitol.

History tells us 13 girls, The Original 13, arrived on May 12, 1842, for the first day at Saint Mary's. A total of 21 students enrolled for the first session. The school has operated continuously on the same site in Raleigh ever since.

Today, Saint Mary's School is an innovative, independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory, boarding and day school dedicated to academic excellence and personal achievement for girls in grades 9-12. Saint Mary's School remains true to its original time-honored mission of providing an excellent education for young women.

The historic core of the school's 23-acre campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Saint Mary&rsquos Chapel, designed by Richard Upjohn and built in 1856, is a National Historic Site, and five of the school&rsquos 25 buildings are Raleigh Historic Properties.

The school, which formerly included a two-year college program, transitioned to a four-year high school in 1998, and the name reverted to Saint Mary's School, the original name of the institution when it was founded in 1842.

For a more detailed history of Saint Mary&rsquos School, search for a copy of The Heritage , written by Saint Mary&rsquos faculty emerita, Martha Sprouse Stoops.


The Basilica of Saint Mary was founded as the church of Saint Mary, a Roman Catholic parish, in 1795 by the Very Reverend Francis Ignatius Neale, S.J., President of Georgetown College (now university) and Pastor of Holy Trinity Church (established 1787). The Basilica of Saint Mary is distinguished as the “eldest daughter” of the Church in the Commonwealth of Virginia and West Virginia, which existed as a single state territory until 1863.

A sketch of the chapel that served as the original home of St. Mary’s Parish. The design was based upon several 18th Century Episcopalian chapels of ease in Maryland and Virginia.

The two “Port Cities” of Alexandria (1749) and Georgetown (1751) stood as independent jurisdictions, which were later incorporated into the District of Columbia. In 1790, President George Washington and the United States Congress established the District of Columbia (now the City of Washington, D.C.) Washington, D.C. was completely destroyed by the War of 1812 and by 1847, the city of Alexandria was incorporated into the Commonwealth of Virginia. As reflected in the annals of the Diocese of Richmond, the Basilica of Saint Mary in Alexandria holds the unique distinction of being the first official Roman Catholic parish in the Commonwealth of Virginia:

“There were few Catholics within that vast territory between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ohio River. Harsh laws had discouraged them from settling in colonial Virginia. It was not until the passing of Thomas Jefferson’s Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in 1786 that Catholics were free to worship openly in the Old Dominion. Within ten years, Catholic communities began to form. St. Mary’s at Alexandria was established in 1795 as the first Catholic church in Virginia. Records from 1794 show that the Catholic congregation in Norfolk owned a parcel of land for religious purposes. More precisely, the Norfolk land was held by the Norfolk Catholic community’s lay trustees. It was their conflict with their pastor over this land that prompted Vatican authorities to persuade the Pope [Pius VI] to set up a Virginia diocese with a residential bishop to suppress the ‘Norfolk Schism.’ As the first Bishop of Richmond, the Pope Pius VII chose Father Patrick Kelly, then president of St. John’s Seminary, Birchfield, Ireland. He was consecrated bishop in St. James Chapel, Dublin on August 24, 1820. Arriving in Norfolk the following January, Bishop Kelly found that, not only was his congregation sorely disunited, it was also too poor to support a bishop and his work. The new Bishop was forced to support himself by operating a school. Obtaining permission to return to Ireland, Bishop Kelly left Virginia in July, 1822 without ever having visited his see city, Richmond, which had no organized Catholic community at that time. ” History of the Diocese of Richmond:

In 1781, a Catholic chaplain serving French soldiers in the Army commanded by Marshal Jean- Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, offered the First Holy Mass in Alexandria City. With the assistance from Rochambeau’s army, General George Washington secured a victory at Yorktown, Virginia over the British forces in the Revolutionary War. When Rochambeau left Virginia in 1782, the need for a place for Catholics to worship became more urgent. A testimony to this fact exists in the letter from the French Revolution exile and priest, Abbé Jean Dubois, S.S., following his 1791 visit to Alexandria city. Abbé Dubois wrote to Colonel John Fitzgerald (former Aide-de-Camp to General Washington during the Revolutionary War and prominent Alexandria resident) in a letter offering to say Mass:

“I hold myself subject to the direction of the Bishop of Baltimore, whether I will settle for a while at Richmond. If My ministry would be agreeable in your city, it will be a pleasure and an honor to go there from time to time to exercise its functions I do not ask any contribution for this, I wish but the consolation of being of use. . . . Although a Frenchman I begin to speak several words of your English and I hope to speak it perfectly in a time.”

In 1826, Abbé Dubois was installed as the Third Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York until his death on December 20, 1842. Additionally, Bishop Dubois went on to found and serve as the first president of Mount Saint Mary’s College (now University) in Emmitsburg, Maryland, site of the major Seminary and second oldest Catholic university in the United States.

On March 17, 1788, Colonel Fitzgerald hosted a dinner for prominent Maryland and Virginia citizens at his home in Alexandria, hoping to raise building funds for the first permanent Catholic parish in the Commonwealth. Verified documentation from the period exists to prove that General George Washington himself made a contribution to the fund. Additionally, Thornton Alexander (heir to John Alexander, the founder of the City of Alexandria) and Colonel Robert T. Hooe, (a Protestant gentlemen who served in the War with Colonel Fitzgerald) agreed to donate a portion of the land at Church and South Washington Streets, then just outside the Alexandria city limits. It was here that Virginia Catholics built the first brick structure known as the Church of Saint Mary. The cornerstone was laid in 1795, and work continued in 1796, according to letters from Archbishop John Carroll, S.J. of Baltimore. The land which later became and still remains the Basilica of Saint Mary’s cemetery, the first Catholic cemetery in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In 1810, a parcel of land closer to the center of Alexandria was purchased for the new church. In 1826, Reverend Father Joseph W. Fairclough, Pastor, erected the Sanctuary and the major portion of the present church at its current location – 310 South Royal Street.

Throughout the centuries that followed, the Basilica of Saint Mary has played a crucial role in the growth of Catholicism in Virginia. From her inception, the Basilica of Saint Mary has done her part in helping to share the word of God through her creation and support of mission churches in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Among the earliest of the “mission” churches was Saint Ignatius in Oxon Hill, Maryland, which remained a Mission until 1948 (now part of the Archdiocese of Washington). These missions have flourished, becoming independent parishes within the Diocese of Richmond (1820), the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (1850), and the Diocese of Arlington (1974), which now numbers over seventy parishes. With the current enrollment exceeding 700 students, the Church of Saint Mary parish elementary school, founded in 1869, remains the largest elementary school in the Diocese.

In 1891 when the Richmond Diocese assumed jurisdiction of the Basilica of Saint Mary, it inherited an established, vibrant and thriving parish with a historic, well preserved church, and a parish school of quality reputation. The Basilica of Saint Mary remains the “Jewel in the Crown” of the Jesuit-founded Maryland Assistancy churches. For the faithful of the Diocese of Arlington, the Basilica of Saint Mary inspires all who seek out Catholic spirituality in her beauty, rich history, sacred musicality, and active pastoral liturgy.


Historic St. Mary's City is a large public access historic interpretation area with four public museums and is a re-creation of the original colonial capitol of Maryland and also the original settlers village. [16]

It has several living history museums, and the entire complex is staffed by period dressed actors who recreate history theatrically, as well as archeologists and archeology students who provide scientific and historical interpretation, [5] public archeological site displays, [14] reconstructed colonial buildings, including ongoing year-round outdoor historical reenactments, a working colonial farm and the fully working replica of The Dove sailing ship, which was one of the "two original settlers ships that established the first Maryland colony" [16] (Maryland's historical equivalent of the Mayflower).

Historic St. Mary's City also provides presentations on different aspects of colonial era woodland Indian life. At special times of the year, members of the Piscataway Indian Nation also provide reenactments and other cultural demonstrations. The Piscataway people were the original inhabitants of St. Mary's City and also befriended and helped the early colonists.

The area also hosts summer stock theater productions (with historical themes) and other special events. Historic St. Mary's City is owned by the State of Maryland and runs under a registered nonprofit charter. In addition to general tourism, the organization hosts special tours for school children, handling more than 20,000 students on field trips per year.

Historic St. Mary's is under the administration of the "Historic St. Mary's City Commission", a government agency of the State of Maryland. [17]

The public honors college, St. Mary's College of Maryland, is a state-funded coed undergraduate liberal arts college. It is only one of two "Public Honors Colleges" in the nation and one of only a handful of small public liberal arts colleges. It was specifically tasked by the state of Maryland to be modeled after far more expensive private elite liberal arts colleges with the intention of offering such an education in the public sector.

The school is secular (nonreligious) the name commemorates the original colonial settlement by that name, half of which was located where the college now stands.

In 2014, U.S. News & World Report, in its annual "Best College and Universities" report, ranked St. Mary's College as "5th" in the nation under the category "Top Public Schools" in the "Colleges" ranking. [18]

Beginnings Edit

George Calvert Edit

Colonial St. Mary's City was first envisioned by an English Lord, George Calvert. Calvert had been born in Yorkshire to a Catholic family, but when he was twelve, the local authorities compelled his parents to send George and his brother Christopher to a Protestant tutor. From then on George conformed to the established religion and had a successful career in service to the crown. His first attempt at establishing a colony was in 1621 in the Province of Avalon on land he purchased in Newfoundland, but after a few years, Calvert decided a warmer climate would be a better location. [19]

After his wife's death in 1622, and a shift in his political fortunes, in 1625 Calvert resigned his position as a secretary of state and returned to the religion of his childhood, [20] at a time of continued religious persecution of the Roman Catholics in England. In 1631, Calvert obtained a grant from King Charles I in recognition of his services to king and country. It had been a dream of George Calvert to establish a colony in North America and to also make it a haven for persecuted Catholics. [21]

Cecil Calvert Edit

George Calvert died shortly before the Maryland charter received the royal seal however, the King continued the grant to his eldest son and heir, Cecil. [21] Cecil Calvert continued and expanded his father's plans. While their interest in providing a haven for fellow Catholics was genuine, it was imperative that the enterprise be profitable. Supporters in England of the Virginia colony opposed the Charter, as they had little interest in having a competing colony to the north. Rather than going to the colony himself, Baltimore stayed behind in England to deal with the political threat and sent his next younger brother Leonard in his stead. He never travelled to Maryland. [22]

Leonard spent the rest of his life there, leading the settlers through many trials and tribulations, as well as to great successes in the farming and selling of tobacco back to Britain. Leonard, more than anyone else in his family, became the actual founder of colonial Maryland.

The Ark and the Dove Edit

Led by Leonard Calvert, in November 1633, two ships, The Ark and The Dove, [23] set sail from the Isle of Wight, loaded with settlers, Jesuit missionaries and indentured servants. After a long, rough sea voyage with a stopover to resupply in Barbados, they arrived in what is now Maryland in March 1634. They made their first permanent settlement in what is now St. Mary's County, Maryland choosing to settle on a bluff overlooking the St. Mary's River, a relatively calm, tidal tributary near the mouth of the Potomac River where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

The site had been occupied by members of the Yaocomico [26] branch of the Piscataway Indian Nation, who had abandoned it as being vulnerable to attack by the Susquehanna. The settlers had with them a former Virginia colonist who was fluent in their language and they met quickly with the chief of the region. The Tayac Kittamaquund, paramount chief of the Piscataway Indian Nation, sold thirty miles of land there to the English newcomers. [27] He wanted to develop them as allies and trading partners (especially because of their advanced technology, such as farming implements, metal-working, gunpowder and weapons, types of food and liquor, etc.). [28] For some time, the Piscataway, their tributary tribes, and the English Marylanders coexisted peacefully. [29]

Naming of St. Mary's City Edit

St. Mary's City was officially named and founded on the site of the new settlement on March 27, 1634. [5] "The name derived from the king's suggestion that the colony be named "Marianus" in honor of the queen, Henrietta Maria. They settled on "Terra Mariae". [30] The original group of settlers numbered 300, mostly English and also some Irish. There may also have been at least one mixed race (African and European heritage) indentured servant who had been picked up on the way over in Barbados. There were also other indentured servants from England and Ireland.

The group was a mix of Catholics and Protestants during a time of religious persecution of Catholics in the British Isles. Leonard Calvert (1606-1647), himself a Roman Catholic, became the governor of the new colony and continued to lead the settlers. [31] St. Mary's City became the capital of the new Maryland colony, [1] and remained so for sixty one years until 1694. [5]

1634–1635: First Maryland legislative assembly Edit

The first Maryland assembly, the first session of a non-native legislative body in Maryland, convened in 1634 and met periodically through 1635. [1] The assembly quickly began to challenge a number of Cecil Calvert's edicts (sent in a letter along with the settlers), although they did not challenge his proprietorship over the new colony or his requirement for religious tolerance. Nevertheless, they pushed successfully for more personal freedoms and to adapt Calvert's edicts to the realities on the ground in the colony, which were not always the same as his expectations. For example, he wanted them to live in regimented fashion within the newly constructed fort in St. Mary's City but the greatest need perceived by the assembly was to allow for more spread-out farming. Leonard Calvert diplomatically lent support to the assembly's wishes in letters to his brother, and Cecil Calvert largely acceded.

Mathias de Sousa was a settler in the colony who was described in historical records by one witness as being "mulatto" (mixed African and European heritage, although sometimes this meant anyone who was dark skinned). He originally arrived in the new colony as an indentured servant working for the Jesuit missionaries who had come with the settlers. He later gained his freedom and went on to become an assemblyman, making him (possibly) the first person of African heritage to participate in a legislative body in North America. [ citation needed ]

Early mandates for religious tolerance Edit

Instructions from George Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore, and the holder of the grant to the new Maryland Colony colony specified in 1633 that the new governor and all settlers were to practice religious tolerance. [12] Upon the death of George Calvert, additional instructions written by his son Cecil Calvert, the new Lord Baltimore, also required religious tolerance in the new colony. [13] They were sent along with his younger brother Leonard Calvert who accompanied the first settlers to Maryland in 1634 and who was appointed the first governor of the Maryland Colony, [13] although they also encouraged Catholics to be reserved about expressions of their faith in order not to antagonize Protestants. These instructions became the first laws of Maryland. [13]

This intent was carried forward and expanded upon by the majority of early settlers of the time, who upon forming their first legislative assembly, called "The Assembly of the Province of Maryland", passed the Maryland Toleration Act in 1649, further codifying the protection of religious freedom. [32]

First colonial town Edit

The original St. Mary's settlement was laid out according to a Baroque town plan, [9] with the settlers living closely in a town with church, stores and homes close by and outlying farms, fields, woods and orchards laid out in a grid or strips of land. [8] However, most residents of St. Mary's City later preferred to live on their tobacco plantations in the surrounding countryside. [16] The settlement was meant to be the capital of the new Maryland Colony and Province of Maryland. [8] [16]

Expansion Edit

Tobacco successes and the expansion of slavery Edit

St. Mary's City experienced an economic boom due to successful tobacco farming, [16] which was the most important export commodity. [16] Tobacco became an extremely valuable cash crop in the colony. [16] This also drove the expansion of African chattel slavery. Older practices of allowing chattel slaves to gain freedom by converting to Catholicism or by eventually grandfathering indentured rights to them after many years of servitude were abolished. The character of the colony began to change more and more to a slave-based economy and slavery began to embed itself into the culture.

An increasing town population contributed to the desire for constructing public buildings, some of which were a state house, a Jesuit chapel, a jail, and an inn. [8] [33]

Growing religious tensions Edit

During and after the English Civil War, fights between Protestants and Catholics developed in the colony. [16] Often this tension went in long cycles, with extended periods where the tension was more repressed followed by acute periods where religious divisions would flare up, sometimes driving change in St. Mary's City and Maryland in the process.

Margaret Brent Edit

Margaret Brent was a business-savvy and successful Catholic settler in St. Mary's City, [34] who, contrary to the mores of the time that discouraged women from managing their own estates, although this was legal, insisted on managing her own business affairs. She had also traveled to the colony as a single, unmarried woman which was contrary to expectations of the time.

The law, in writing, had always been on Brent's side, but the common practices and beliefs of the day did not always guarantee enforcement, especially in the male-dominated frontier environment of the colonies, far away from the courts of England. As a woman, she had to defend her legal rights in order to be sure they were respected.

Brent defended her right to run her own estate in common law court before the assembly in St. Mary's City, making a spirited case, and won, making her the first woman in English North America to stand for herself in a court of law and before an assembly. She also demanded the right to vote in the assembly. [34]

Brent also served as an attorney before the colonial court, [34] mostly representing women of the colony. [34] She is considered to have been very legally astute. [34] Surviving records indicate that she pleaded at least 134 cases. [34] Although she did not explicitly campaign for women's rights in general, she is credited for having done so implicitly.

The Plundering Time Edit

1644–46: Plundering Time Edit

The violence stemming from the English civil war eventually spread to the colonies [34] and a Protestant raiding party attacked St. Mary's City, driving off many settlers and burning several structures. After the attack there were only about 100 people still living in the town. The raiders took control of the city and added further fortifications.

The raiders plundered the homes of all the Catholic residents of the city who refused to renounce their faith and anyone who professed friendship to a Catholic. This would later be called the Plundering Time by the colonists. [34]

1647: Leonard Calvert retakes St. Mary's City Edit

Leonard Calvert had spent a few years in exile from St. Mary's City but remained in the colonies. During this time he married Margaret Brent's sister which also brought Margaret Brent into the Calvert family as an in-law, advancing her in some ways to her advantage and in other ways to her detriment. Nearly two years later, Leonard Calvert managed to raise a militia [34] and led an attack to retake St. Mary's City. [34] They succeeded in driving off the Protestant militia and regained control of the town. [34]

Then Calvert and his men carried out successful raids on Kent Island in the Chesapeake, which had become a stronghold of his foes, defeating the force there. At this point Calvert had the upper hand, although the threat still remained. However, within a year, Leonard Calvert became sick and died, creating a temporary power vacuum in the colony and also worryingly for the residents of St. Mary's City, leaving Calvert's militia, which had been protecting the city, unpaid.

Margaret Brent intervenes at a personal cost Edit

Margaret Brent had been named by Leonard Calvert as the executor of his last will and testament, [34] a very unusual designation for a woman of her time. [34] She therefore handled the liquidation of Leonard Calvert's estate. [34] However at the same time, Calvert's still-unpaid militia had become a security issue for St. Mary's City. [34] Even if the militia simply disbanded due to the soldiers remaining unpaid, the City would then be vulnerable again to attack. And so Brent successfully petitioned the Maryland Assembly to grant her power of attorney over the holdings of Cecil Calvert, the Lord Baltimore, who was Leonard's brother living in England. [34] She then used proceeds from liquidating some of these holdings to pay the militiamen. [34]

Although her actions were later defended by the Maryland assembly [34] as necessary in an emergency, a strain emerged between the Calvert family in England and Brent. Even though the assembly stated that Brent's actions may have in fact, helped to save the colony, [34] the Calverts did not approve of Brent making a decision to spend money raised from Cecil Calvert's assets. [34]

In defense of Brent, the Maryland Assembly issued the following proclamation about her:

. the Colony was safer in her hands than any man's in the Province,
and she rather deserves favor and thanks for her so much concerning
[herself] for the public safety. [34]

However this did not sway Cecil Calvert. [34]

This dispute also set off racial tensions between the Brent family and Cecil Calvert in England, because Brent's brother, who had also been in St. Mary's City, had married a Native American princess. In the same letter accusing Margaret Brent of mishandling Leonard Calvert's estate, Cecil Calvert also disparaged her brother, Giles Brent, for having married a Native American woman. At the end of the letter, Cecil Calvert ordered Brent and her brother and sisters to leave the Maryland Colony.

Although the assembly was largely supportive of Brent and largely took her side in the dispute with the surviving Calvert family in England, [34] during this time she also petitioned for the right to vote in the assembly. [34] However the assembly denied her that right [1] [34] because she was a woman. This was the first known attempt by a woman in English North America to gain the right to vote. [35]

Despite appeals on her behalf by the Maryland assembly, Cecil Calvert had demanded by letter that she and her brother and sisters leave the Maryland colony. Consequently, Brent left the colony with her sister. [34] They lived for a year on an island in the Potomac River and then moved to the Virginia colony. Other relatives moved directly to Virginia. Brent established a new estate there which she called "Peace". [34] She eventually became very successful and stayed in Virginia for the rest of her life.

1649: Maryland assembly ratifies the "Maryland Toleration Act" Edit

The Maryland Toleration Act, crafted and passed by the reinstated Maryland assembly in St. Mary's City, was the first law codified to mandate religious tolerance among Christians of various sects (especially Catholics and Protestants). [1] It was approved not only to carry out the wishes of George Calvert and his son and Cecil Calvert that the colony be a place of religious toleration between Catholics and Protestants. More urgently, the act, which applied to all of the Maryland Colony, sought to settle once and for all the religious divisions that had triggered the recent fighting. The assembly at the time was majority Protestant, and the aristocratic leadership, including the governorship of the colony was Catholic.

The act remained in effect for 40 years, and contributed to relative peace in the colony during that time.

Stagnation Edit

1660s: Problems in the tobacco economy Edit

In the 1660s tobacco, which had long been a lucrative boom crop, began to experience price declines. This was likely due to increased production and competition in other colonies. The problem was then aggravated by Maryland planters cutting their tobacco product with other leaves in order to make up for the decrease in the price of a tobacco barrel. Although helpful in the very short run, in the longer run this cutting practice hurt the reputation of Maryland tobacco in England and further devalued the yearly tobacco crops. All of this began, in stages, to have a destabilizing effect on the Maryland Colony, which then further aggravated latent religious tensions between the majority Protestant planters and the Catholic aristocratic leadership.

All of this further intensified reliance on slavery in St. Mary's City, as plantation owners sought to eliminate the cost of paid labor in producing tobacco.

1676: Original brick Maryland Statehouse constructed Edit

In 1676, the original Maryland Statehouse, the home of the Maryland colonial assembly, was finished. [1] The current reconstructed statehouse is not in the original location, which today lies under the churchyard of the adjacent Trinity Episcopal Church. When the original statehouse was dismantled in 1829, Trinity was built out of the statehouse bricks. [36]

1678: First printing house in southern colonies opens in St. Mary's City Edit

Moving to St. Mary's City in 1678, William and Dinah Nuthead became the first printers in Maryland. [37] While Dinah Nuthead was illiterate, she would often help her husband in operating the printing press. [37] By copying the letters and the processes of her husband, Dinah was able to continue the printing business following her husband's death in 1695. [37] After gaining a license to print from the colonial government, Dinah became the first female printer in the colony. [37] When Dinah moved to Annapolis, Maryland in 1695, she was able to continue their printing business in the new location. [37]

Decline Edit

1689: Watershed eruption of religious conflict Edit

In 1689, about forty years after the passage of the Maryland Toleration Act, sectarian tensions between Protestants and Catholics became so great that Protestant settlers revolted against the Lords Baltimore in the Protestant uprising in Maryland. [1] [38] [39] The English Crown took over the Maryland colony and appointed royal governors, replacing the Calverts. [38] [39]

Legally mandated religious tolerance was abolished, first by Royal decree and then later by a law passed by a now majority-Protestant state assembly, in the new capital in Annapolis.

1690s: Catholics lost right to vote, other anti-Catholic policies implemented Edit

In 1692 Catholics in the Maryland Colony lost the right to vote. [39] [40] Catholics were also no longer allowed to worship in public [40] and could only worship in their private homes. [39] [40] Laws were also passed limiting new Roman Catholic immigration to the colony.

Although a Catholic person's right to vote in Maryland would be reinstated by the state assembly some decades later, other forms of discrimination against Catholics would continue through most of the next century [40] and would leave lasting religious tensions in Maryland felt all the way through to the election of John F. Kennedy just past the mid-20th century. [41]

Relocation of Maryland Capital Edit

The new Protestant Maryland governor Sir Francis Nicholson relocated the capital from St. Mary's City to the more central Annapolis [5] (then called "Anne Arundel Town") [1] in 1695. [1] [5] [8] [42] The colonial statehouse in St. Mary's was turned into a Protestant church the same year. [36]

In 1695 St. Peters freehold, the former home of Maryland governors in St. Mary's City, was destroyed in an explosion. Whether this was an intentional act or an accident is not known, [43] as a large gunpowder magazine had been stored in its basement. [43] The freehold had briefly been the home of the new Protestant Governor Francis Nicholson [43] until he ordered the colonial capital moved to Annapolis. [43] Prior to this the freehold had been the home of Philip Calvert, the former Catholic Governor of the Maryland colony and Cecil Calvert's half-brother [43] until his death in 1682. [43]

Anti-Catholic policies and discrimination in the 18th century Edit

During the 18th century, Catholics became a persecuted minority group in Maryland, [40] including St. Mary's county. [40] Catholics were denied the right to serve in the militia, [40] taxed double when money had to be raised for the military, and continued to be discouraged from immigrating. Wealthy Catholics often became crypto-Catholics (practicing their religion in secret and sending their children abroad to get Catholic educations), but poor Catholics could not afford this and were more vulnerable to discrimination practices. Consequently, over the generations, many converted to Protestantism in order to avoid discrimination. By the late 18th century, the Catholic population had dropped to 9%.

Abandonment of the city Edit

With the seat of government gone, the town lost its reason to exist. [5] [8] [16] Remaining inhabitants were mostly farmers. [5] [16] The former town center was converted to agricultural land, [5] and archaeological remains from the colonial town were undisturbed in the ground. [5] [9] [44]

1700–1865: Antebellum slave plantation era Edit

Early 18th century: Consolidation of farms Edit

The small remaining farms in St. Mary's City were consolidated into a large antebellum-style slave plantation by the Brome-Howard family, which operated through a majority of the 19th century. [45] The main plantation house was built over the ruins of one of the Calvert residences.

Civil War Edit

During the Civil War, Union troops occupied St. Mary's County, which like a large part of Maryland at the time, had Southern sympathies. [46] Piers and wharfs in St. Mary's County were burned by Union forces in order to stop trade with the confederacy which was only across the Potomac River. [46] Brome's Wharf in St. Mary's City was also burned, as it was a part of what was by then the Brome-Howard Plantation, owned by Doctor Brome, a slave-owner and a likely confederate sympathizer. There is archeological evidence that the Union Army may have occupied the plantation for some time. [46] Records show that Brome later complained that Union troops had damaged his piano while ransacking the main plantation house.

Records show that one quarter of the 66 people living under slavery at Doctor Brome's plantation in St. Mary's City escaped during the Civil War [47] and at least two of them then joined the Union Army. [47] Even before slavery was legally abolished, the Union Army had a policy allowing enslaved men to gain their freedom if they became Union soldiers. [47] Other records show that the total number of people living under slavery there during this time was 59. [48]

One escaped slave from the Brome-Howard Plantation in St. Mary's City served in the famed 38th U.S. Colored Infantry, which received unit citations for service in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm. He survived the war and settled in Baltimore. Another African American soldier in this same unit, also from St. Mary's County, although not St. Mary's City, received the Medal of Honor for his actions during this battle.

Two men who had escaped slavery from the St. Mary's City area, Alexander Gough [46] and William Gross, [46] joined the famed [49] 38th United States Colored Infantry Regiment [46] [47] of the Union Army, [46] which won unit citations [49] for valor in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm (also known as the "Battle of New Market Heights") in the American Civil War. [49] Gough is known to have survived the war and lived the rest of his life in Baltimore. [47] Two other African American men from the area, William H. Barnes and James H. Harris both from Great Mills (which is just to the north of St. Mary's City), who had been free tenant farmers before the war, also served in the same regiment. Harris and Barnes each received the Medal of Honor for their actions in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm. There is evidence suggesting that additional slaves from the Brome plantation fought in the war as well. [46] In total, over 700 African Americans from St. Mary's County served in the Union Army during the Civil War. [51]

The United States Colored Troops Memorial Statue, in Lexington Park, Maryland, seven miles north of St. Mary's City, honors and memorializes African American soldiers from St. Mary's County, including the men of the 38th United States Colored Troops Regiment, who served as soldiers or sailors in the Union cause during the American Civil War. An educational plaque at the site specifically mentions Barnes and Harris and how they received the Medal of Honor.

Post-Civil War farming Edit

The Civil War ended slavery on the plantation and the area remained mostly under a large farm, [5] worked by tenant farmers and owned by descendants of the original owners until the 20th century. [ citation needed ] By the mid-20th century, few 17th-century buildings still stood. [8] The town center site appeared to be farmland [5] with the exception of a few private residences, and also after 1840, a slowly expanding female seminary school that began with just a small part of the total area.

Writings about the decline of St. Mary's City Edit

In 1838 the novel Rob of the Bowl was published [1] it was a story about the struggle for religious tolerance in Maryland and was written by John Pendleton Kennedy, and was set in St. Mary's City and also neighboring St. Inigoes, Maryland. [52] The book opens with a poem that Kennedy selected as a re-attribution to describe St. Mary's City long after its abandonment as the capitol of Maryland. [52]

This also refers to part of the 19th-century history and mythology of St. Mary's City (in the State of Maryland) as a place where great things happened (such as the founding of the Colonial Government of Maryland and the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States) but which eventually became a ghost town. [9]

No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,

But choked with sedges, works its weedy way
Along thy glades a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest
Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries.
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,

And the long grass o'ertops the mould'ring wall [52]

St. Mary's City's resurgence Edit

1840: Establishment of St. Mary's Female Seminary Edit

The book Rob of the Bowl tells a somewhat fictionalized story of the original St. Mary's City. The author, after the book became popular, publicly lamented that there was no monument to memorialize the original St. Mary's City and what happened there. [53]

A few years later, in 1840, a women's nondenominational seminary high school was established [54] on the grounds of old St. Mary's City, in response to Kennedy's call for a monument. [6] Its founders described it as a "living monument" to the beginnings of religious tolerance and established it to meet the educational needs of young women in the county and the state. [6] The school was called St. Mary's Seminary. [54]

The school was intentionally made nondenominational, to honor, promote and memorialize religious tolerance, and also to help heal Protestant-Catholic tensions that still haunted St. Mary's County at the time. [6]

The name was changed to St. Mary's Female Seminary, [54] to clarify the school's already existing female student-only mission.

Early 1900s Edit

In 1926, the former St. Mary's women's Catholic seminary school (a boarding high school within the proper of old St. Mary's City that was founded in 1840) was expanded to a two-year seminary female junior college combined with the last two years of high school (four years total). This was seen as a natural outgrowth of its former role as a now elite, state-funded women's high school. [55]

Through an act of the Maryland Legislature, St. Mary's gender limitation was removed, and the word "female" was consequently dropped from the school's name. [1] [54] [56] However, although males may enroll, they are not offered housing. [6] The name of the school was changed to St. Mary's Seminary Junior College. [1] [6] [54]

The St. Mary's City Commission was chartered in 1966 [1] [17] by the State Assembly of Maryland and the Governor, Millard Tawes. [57] The charter created the commission as "a new, independent state agency" reporting directly to the Governor of Maryland "to preserve, develop and maintain" St. Mary's City as a state "monument", [6] and also to oversee ongoing archeological work. [5] [6]

The Junior College was ordered to be expanded to a four-year institution in 1966 [58] (effective in 1968) [58] and renamed "St. Mary's College of Maryland". [1] [6] [54] [58] It was chartered as a four-year public liberal arts college. [6] [54] [58] Its mission was to provide a liberal arts college in the public sector to students who could not afford to attend elite private colleges. Reorganization was completed in 1967. [59]

1969: St. Mary's City declared a National Landmark Edit

The plan "recommends acquisition of 1200 acres" and suggests a museum, visitor center, working tobacco farm, public transportation, and reconstruction of the Ark and Dove as first steps in the reconstruction of the historic city. [61]

1976: World premiere of Wings of the Morning, by Kermit Hunter Edit

Commissioned to celebrate the founding of St. Mary's City, Hunter's outdoor drama prominently featured the characters of Leonard Calvert, William Claiborne, Ann Arundel, Richard Ingel, Mathias de Sousa and others, and launched the career of two-time Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington, who made his stage debut as DeSousa. Also in the cast were Tony winner Debra Monk as Ann Arundel), and actor/writer/director Jackson Heath as Ingel. On July 4, 1976, a Washington Post review of the play was read aloud on the floor of Congress and permanently entered in the Congressional Record.

1980–present Edit

After years of exploratory test digs and historical detective work, and with the possible original key town locations having been narrowed down, archeological dig activity was increased significantly in a determined effort to finish uncovering the original layout of the colonial settlement. [8]

In 1984, Lord Baltimore's World was a large-scale, months-long colonial reenactment that was staffed by professional actors and also included live Shakespearean theater. It occurred within St. Mary's City proper and celebrated the 350th anniversary of the arrival of Maryland's first colonists. [62] [63]

After four years of intensified archeological digging, most of the original town layout had been discovered. [8] It had been originally expected that the layout would be chaotic, but instead it was revealed that the town was actually carefully planned in a Baroque style, [9] similar to Williamsburg, Virginia and Annapolis Maryland. [8] Old St. Mary's City, Annapolis and Williamsburg are the only three towns in North America planned and built in a Baroque layout. [8]

The St. Mary's City Commission, which had evolved through a variety of roles and slight name variations [17] assigned to its historical research, reconstruction and preservation charter charter, was assigned a new name in 1991 by the State of Maryland: the Historic St. Mary's Commission. [17] This commission still has administrative authority over about half of St. Mary's City [17] it is responsible for the preservation of more than 800 acres of land and 3 miles of shoreline.

Present Edit

Historic St. Mary's City is now a significant tourist attraction in the state of Maryland, visited by approximately 20,000 students per year, [64] in addition to approximately 25,000 other tourists per year [64] (a rough yearly total of 45,000 people). [64] Expansion and development of the historic area continues, including reconstruction and replica creation of additional period sites. Historic St. Mary's City is operated as an outdoor living history museum, and includes costumed actors portraying colonial-era life, museum exhibitions, and numerous reconstructed buildings.

St. Mary's College of Maryland is now a nationally recognized elite educational institution in the public sector. In 2014, U.S. News & World Report, in its annual report, ranked St. Mary's College as 5th in the nation under the category "Top Public Schools" in the "Colleges" category. [18]

The National Park Service has described St. Mary's City as "probably the most intact 17th-century English town surviving in our nation represented entirely by archaeological resources." [14] Numerous archaeological digs and research projects continue in St. Mary's City. [5] [65] In the last 30 years, there have been more than 200 archaeological digs in the city. [5]

First excavations Edit

After explorations by Henry Chandlee Forman in the 1940s, excavations began in 1971 [66] with the creation of the St. Mary's City Historic Commission, a state institution tasked with discovering and preserving archaeological remains in St. Mary's City, [5] establishing a museum on the site, [5] and conducting related historical research. [5] Since then, much of the original colonial St. Mary's City has been found. [8] The Historic St. Mary's City Commission continues to excavate the area today. [5] [65]

The Historical Archaeology Field School Edit

In conjunction with St. Mary's College of Maryland, the Historic St. Mary's Commission (formerly the "St. Mary's City Commission") runs the Historic Archeological Field School every summer [5] [14] that is attended by students from all over the United States and other countries as well. [5] [14] Many of its graduates now hold prominent positions in the field. [14] The students not only study, but also work in many of the active archeological dig sites in St. Mary's City. [5] Providing extensive hands-on experience, the school teaches all aspects of professional archeological work, including working in real archeological digs, analyzing and conserving artifacts, [5] as well as cataloging, archiving and related historical research. The school has been in existence for more than 40 years. [5] [14]

Current work Edit

St. Mary's City has numerous active archeological dig sites, [5] [14] focusing on precolonial, colonial and antebellum (slavery era) history. [67]

Notable discoveries Edit

Some important archeological discoveries in St. Mary's City include:

  • The site of the first printing house in the Southern colonies [68] a quantity of lead print type (for printing words), indicating that the site where it was found was the documented William Nuthead Printing House [68][69]
  • A 1645 fort with a surrounding moat, claimed to be the only structural remains of the English Civil War in the American Colonies[70]
  • Discovery of the site of St. John's Freehold, [71] where Maryland's citizen government was instituted [71] glassware [72]
  • A set of Kütahya ceramics, one of only two known examples found in the United States [73]
  • 19th-century slave quarters from St. Mary's City's later plantation period [74]
  • Three 17th-century lead coffins. [75][76] One of these is suspected of being the coffin of the former colonial chancellor and also judge, Philip Calvert. [9][76][77]
  • The foundation of a Jesuit chapel [9][78]
  • Discovery of the site of St. Peters Freehold, the former home of Maryland Chancellor Philip Calvert. [5][43] St. Peters freehold was destroyed in a violent explosion in 1695 when 900 pounds of gunpowder stored in its cellar were set off. [43] Whether the explosion was intentional or an accident is unknown. [43] The discovery was made by a team of visiting British scientists, [43] and was featured in a British Time Team documentary that aired on The Learning Channel. [43]
  • Garret Van Sweringen's Inn, [26][79] a 17th-century inn founded by Garret Van Sweringen an Innkeeper [26] and a leader in St. Mary's City's development [79][80]
  • Extensive artifacts from successive Native American occupations [81]
  • The 18th-century house of merchant and planter John Hicks, [82][83] with an extensive ceramic assemblage

These findings come along with thousands of artifacts and bone fragments [84] that have been cataloged and processed into St. Mary's City historical museums and storage archives. [5] [84] These artifacts continue to be analyzed, [5] and continue to advance period research in various fields. [14]

St. Mary's Fort Edit

In late 2019, St. Mary’s Fort was unearthed to be later revealed in March 2021. [85] The structure was built in 1634 by the first English colonists, to be their fourth colony in the New World after Jamestown (1607), Plymouth (1620), and Massachusetts Bay (1630). [86] Moreover, a silver coin was discovered there, dated back to the reign of King Charles I. [87]

St Marys Hospital

In order to ensure the health and safety of our patients, visitors, associates and medical providers, we have a temporary policy in place reducing the entrance points to Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. We apologize for any inconvenience this change may cause, and thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

  • Hospital Main Entrance (5:30 am -8 pm)
  • Lobby Entrance from the Medical Office Buildings (7 am - 6 pm)
  • Emergency Department (24/7)

Each hospital entrance will be staffed with Bon Secours associates to screen all patients and visitors entering the building.

Valet is closed until further notice however, valet parking spaces may be used until valet services are re-established.

St. Mary’s was named a Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospital in the nation by Thomson Reuters and was recognized by HealthGrades for being ranked among the Top 5% in the nation for emergency medicine, critical care, stroke, gastrointestinal care, and prostatectomy.

St. Mary’s is accredited by The Joint Commission for having centers of excellence in heart failure, heart attack, hip and knee joint replacement and primary stroke center. It’s also a center of excellence for surgical weight loss surgery and breast imaging.

Furthermore, St. Mary’s is designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons. St. Mary’s is pleased of all of its honors and awards.

In Richmond, we are probably best known for our birthing center, repeatedly voted the “Best Place in Richmond to Have a Baby” (Style Magazine). We provide exceptional care for newborns and infants, including a state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staffed with onsite neonatologists 24 hours a day.

St. Mary's also provides exceptional care to children. Its comprehensive pediatric services include a dedicated pediatric emergency department, an inpatient pediatric unit with onsite Pediatric Hospitalists 24-hours a day, a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) with onsite Pediatric Intensivists 24-hours a day, as well as a variety of pediatric subspecialty services. St. Mary's diverse, highly trained and dedicated staff of pediatric professionals delivers pediatric care in a wide range of specialties including allergy and immunology, cardiology, ENT, general surgery, neurology, pulmonology, endocrinology, orthopedics and urology.

St. Mary's also has a fully staffed Cleft and Craniofacial Team to provide all aspects of care to children with cleft lip or palate as well as complex congenital skull abnormalities.

St. Mary’s is a proud member of The National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI).

Cancer questions? Call (804) 353-HOPE to talk to our specialists.

St. Mary's Patient Advocacy: 804-287-7443
Central Scheduling: 804-627-5660

St. Mary's Church & School

As of April 10-11 , the Sunday obligation is no longer dispensed generally. As of June 12 , the remaining exceptions to the Sunday obligation were removed, leaving only the normal excuses of illness and pastor's permission.
Welcome back to Mass! (Bishop's Decree and Video)

You are still welcome to receive Communion
on Sundays from 12-12:15pm on 4th Street,
between the Church and Rectory

Please contact the office if you are healthy
and can volunteer to make it possible!

We are complying with policies set by
the Diocese of Springfield in IL and the State of IL.

Receive the regular Saturday morning e-bulletin and other timely announcements.

  • Saturday : 5:15 PM English English EN
  • Sunday : 6:30 AM English English EN 8:00 AM English English EN Facemasks required throughout
  • Sunday : 4:45 PM to 5:45 PM Only during Advent
  • 1st Friday : 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM And all Fridays of Lent
  • Saturday : 7:00 AM to 7:45 AM Only Saturdays of Lent 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
  • Sun Sat 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM Signup required
  • 1st Friday : 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM During COVID 4-5pm only

Tuesdays after 8:00 AM Mass: Mother of Perpetual Help

Monday-Friday at 5:30 PM on Facebook Live: Rosary

Daily Eucharistic Adoration in the new chapel, 3pm-10pm, Signup required (click).

First Friday of the Month:
4-5pm Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions
5:15pm Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Fridays of Lent:
4-5pm Confessions
5:15pm Mass
7:00pm Stations of the Cross

St. Mary's Parish, in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, is committed to ensuring a safe environment for parishioners of all ages to gather as a community of faith that worships and learns—without fear of abuse or harm. Specifically, we train and run background checks on all employees and volunteers of the parish and school, to ensure that no child is alone with an adult, and that children understand safe and appropriate touch. Contact the St. Mary's Safe Environment Coordinator at the parish office, 618-465-4284 x226.

To learn about what the Bishop and Diocese have done to prevent abuse, investigate allegations, and care for victims, or to learn how to report concerns of physical or financial abuse, visit the Promise website.

One of the Churches in Detroit with Plenty Going on

As well as a regular schedule of masses and celebratory worship events, we have a full program of other activities which help to build the church community and enable all to participate more fully in the life of the church. From RCIA classes and homeless meals through to the Eucharistic Adoration and more, we offer a full calendar of worship and community orientated events. In addition, visitors can enjoy tours of the church, with a chance to explore its rich history, either as part of a tour group or with a private tour guide.

Biblical references

The first mention of Mary is the story of the Annunciation, which reports that she was living in Nazareth and was betrothed to Joseph (Luke 1:26 ff.), and the last mention of her (Acts of the Apostles 1:14) includes her in the company of those who devoted themselves to prayer after the ascension of Jesus into heaven. She appears in the following incidents in the Gospels: the Annunciation the visit with Elizabeth, her kinswoman and the mother of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus (Luke 1:39 ff.) the birth of Jesus and the presentation of him in the Temple (Luke 2:1 ff.) the coming of the Magi and the flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:1 ff.) the Passover visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 years old (Luke 2:41 ff.) the marriage at Cana in Galilee, although her name is not used (John 2:1 ff.) the attempt to see Jesus while he was teaching (Mark 3:31 ff.) and the station at the cross, where, apparently widowed, she was entrusted to the disciple John (John 19:26 ff.). Even if one takes these scenes as literal historical accounts, they do not add up to an integrated portrait of Mary. Only in the narratives of the Nativity and the Passion of Christ is her place a significant one: her acceptance of the privilege conferred on her in the Annunciation is the solemn prologue to the Christmas story, and, not only does she stand at the foot of the cross, but in the Easter story “the other Mary” who came to the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:1) is not she—according to traditional interpretations, because, having kept in her heart what he was to be, she knew that the body of Jesus would not be there. On the other hand, the three incidents that belong to the life of Jesus contain elements of a pronouncedly human character, perhaps even the suggestion that she did not fully understand Jesus’ true mission.

Since the early days of Christianity, however, the themes that these scenes symbolize have been the basis for thought and contemplation about Mary. Christian communions and theologians differ from one another in their interpretations of Mary principally on the basis of where they set the terminal point for such development and expansion—that is, where they maintain that the legitimate development of doctrine may be said to have ended. To a considerable degree, therefore, a historical survey of that development is also an introduction to the state of contemporary Christian thought about Mary.

From Triumph To Tragedy, And Modern Redemption

While the launching of St. Mary’s City was successful, its subsequent history betrayed the hopes of its Protestant and Catholic founders, who wanted to build a community where religious tolerance was sacrosanct.

The reliance on tobacco farming by the community’s growing population led to an increase in the use of slavery, which violated the community’s original plan to phase the practice out over time. The pursuance of this economic path also helped fuel serious dissension and conflict between the largely Protestant planters and the Catholic aristocracy that held political power in the community.

Tragically, no one suffered more from the founding of St. Mary’s City than the Yaocomaco people. This once thriving group vanished from the Earth within a few decades of their first contact with the Europeans, who had brought new and deadly diseases that ravaged unprepared Yaocomaco immune systems.

In 1694, Maryland’s colonial settlers moved the capital from St. Mary’s City to Annapolis. All that survived afterwards was a highly profitable but morally degraded plantation economy, where the fertile lands were concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy tobacco-farming slaveholders. The city itself was ultimately abandoned, and was only rediscovered nearly three centuries later when archaeologists returned to the spot to look for what remained of Maryland’s long-lost first settlement.

Today, St. Mary’s City has been restored as an historical site and tourist attraction. Visitors can learn more about the location’s vitally important history—and soon they will be able to tour the fully excavated St. Mary’s Fort, where the state’s founders established their initial footprint nearly 400 years ago.

Top image: A conjectural drawing of the St. Mary's Fort settlement in Maryland in 1634. Source: Jeffrey R. Parno / Historic St. Mary's City

Watch the video: Story of St Mary for Kids Animated, English


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