(All images and passage from the Provincial Annals of 1873 used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)
History is everywhere on the Emmitsburg Campus. The Daughters of Charity (and the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s before them) have occupied this site continuously for over 200 years. The sense of history is especially evident in the two beautiful cemetery plots on the campus grounds. The older of the two is known as St. Joseph’s Cemetery. The site for St. Joseph’s Cemetery was selected soon after Mother Seton and her companions arrived in Emmitsburg. Their superior, Fr. William DuBourg, having just given a retreat for the Sisters, invited them to walk the grounds and select a place for a burial ground and to select locations for their own burials. The journal of Mother Rose White records that the Sisters chose a spot under some of the beautiful trees that then adorned the grounds. St. Joseph’s Cemetery still resides on the original site chosen by Mother Seton and her early companions.
The Provincial Annals from October 1873 noted:
If there is a spot on earth that tells of rest when the life work is over, it is the graveyard at St. Joseph’s: a mortuary chapel of gothic would mark the spot where Mother Seton sleeps, awaiting the day wherein shall be rewarded the works that followed her. Around her lie the first companions of her charity, and again, other crosses tell of succeeding generations of the great family, whose privilege it was to have been gathered in, from afar & near, amid the many works of the Sisters of Charity, to rest under the old oaks of the graveyard.
Seen here are photographs of St. Joseph’s Cemetery. When the earlier picture was taken the Mortuary Chapel, built in the 1840s, did indeed house the remains of Mother Seton. Today her remains reside in the Basilica at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. You can see in the later picture some of the succeeding generations of Sisters who now rest here.
In 1972, the Daughters of Charity closed the Villa St. Michael, a residential facility in Baltimore which cared for retired Sisters, and transferred the care of Senior Sisters to Emmitsburg. The bodies of all of the Sisters buried at the Villa in Baltimore were transferred to a new plot on the Emmitsburg campus, located east of St. Joseph’s Cemetery. This plot, known as Sacred Heart Cemetery, is where Sisters are buried today.
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