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Columbarium

The St. Mark’s family is extremely blessed to have both the St. Mark’s Columbarium and the West Road Cemetery for the interment of the cremated remains of Parish members and their families.  The West Road Cemetery is at the site of the original St. Mark’s Church and has been used for the burial of Parish members since colonial times.  When the congregation moved to the site on God’s Acre in 1833, the entire West Road site was converted to a cemetery and has been continuously maintained by the Parish for this purpose.  Today, ancient tombstones surrounded by old stone walls and bounded by mature trees provide a dignified and appropriate setting for burial.

 

The St. Mark’s Columbarium was established in 1979 on the present campus. Utilizing low stone walls for the interment of ashes, the Columbarium continues the traditions established at the West RoadCemetery.

 

Trustees are appointed by the Rector and approved by the Vestry and are responsible for the administration of both burial places.  They are charged to maintain the gracious simplicity of the settings and with setting fees that will insure continuous maintenance.  A portion of fees is set aside to build a perpetual care fund to cover maintenance costs.

 

Please address inquiries to any of the Trustees through the Church Office.

 

We pray that the souls of the faithfully departed will rest in peace, and we pledge to make the resting place of the saints to continue to be a gracious and dignified place where we may come and remember and know that the remains of those we love will be respectfully cared for and about.

 

 

Provisions Governing The Use Of The Memorial Columbarium

 

Reservations: Reservations may be made by members of the Parish for themselves or their immediate families (e.g., their parents or their children) for the use of numbered niches in the Walls of St. Anselm, St. Bede, St. Columba, Azalea or St. David.  Such reservations will be accepted in the order of receipt of payment and will be so recorded in the Columbarium Record Book.
Payments: Each reservation will be confirmed in writing by the Trustees upon receipt of payment in full.
Cancellations: Any purchaser (or his executor or administrator) wishing to cancel his reservation for a niche may do so at any time after his full payment or his initial down payment has been received, thus restoring to St. Mark’s full ownership of such space and giving to him or to his estate credit for a tax-deductable gift to St. Mark’s.
Transfers: Reservations for numbered niche(s) are not transferable except to immediate family members with approval of the Trustees and may be used only for burial of the ashes of the person(s) named by the purchaser in his Letter of Agreement, unless otherwise agreed by the Trustees.
Containers: Ashes to be buried must be in a covered container not to exceed overall dimensions of 7” x 7” x 7” (or 7” x 7” x 11” in St. David’s Wall).  Each niche may contain the ashes of one person only.
Scattering Ashes:  The scattering of ashes is not permissible in the Columbarium or on any other property owned by St. Mark’s Church.
Name Plaques: As soon as practicable after interment of ashes, the Trustees will arrange for the preparation of a bronze name plaque to be permanently affixed to the flagstone covering the numbered niche involved.  Each plaque will contain the first, middle (or initial), and last name of the deceased and the dates of his birth and death, according to information supplied by the purchaser or by the agent of his estate.  Any variations from these specifications must be discussed with the Trustees and agreed to in writing.
Additional Costs: The cost of each bronze plaque will be borne by the purchaser or his estate.  Costs of opening and closing each niche and of affixing the bronze plaque thereto will also be borne by the purchaser or his estate.
Memorial Gifts: No installation of memorials such as live plants, shrubs, trees or bulbs, or of physical appurtenances such as gates, handrails, benches, sculptures, illuminations, etc., will be permitted except with approval by the Trustees, who shall keep updated records of all memorial gifts needed, proposed, promised or provided for the Columbarium.
Hardships: Should any of the policies listed above cause hardship, distress, or undue inconvenience to any member of the Parish who is a prospective purchaser, he or she is invited to present the case to the Trustees for consideration and decision by them or, if agreement cannot be reached, then for final consideration and decision by the Vestry. The one-time charge for niches may change as to future reservations if construction and maintenance charges so warrant. 

 

 

St. Mark's Cemetery

 

Loyalty to the Crown was being taught by the Anglican missionaries wherever they had a church, and by May 1764 Canaan Parish saw the beginning of a small Church of England meeting house.  This was on West Road on the Norwalk side of the Perambulation Line, just east of Weed Street.  Two months later, in a deed dated July 18, 1764, title to the land on which “the frame for a church now standeth” was given to “Samuel Belden, Gideon Leeds, Ebenezer Smith and his son Ephraim Smith and the Rest of the Professors of the Church of England” by James Hait, that earlier opponent of Deacon John Bouton.  His gift of 55 rods at the north end of his farm was made, Hait said, “in Consideration of the Good Will and Respect” which he had “for the Professors of the Church of England Dwelling in the Towns of Stamford and Norwalk and in Canaan Parish.”  The building was gone before 1830, and all that survives is Church Hill Burying Ground, occupying the whole tract that was James Hait’s gift, now used and maintained by St. Mark’s Church.

 

Beyond this deed, little is known about Canaan Parish’s Church of England church.  In 1760 there were only 14 Anglican missionaries in Connecticut, and none was available for the little new church.  These missionaries labored under difficulties, for their principal support came from overseas – from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.  Any young man from America who desired to enter the Church of England ministry had to pay his way to England to be ordained, receiving his canonical authority as priest from the Bishop of London.  In England he had also to take the oath of allegiance to the King (which would lead to difficult decisions for the American Anglican clergy during the Revolutionary War).  Despite the 1727 law, Connecticut firmly opposed a colonial Church of England bishop, and without a bishop the Anglicans here could neither ordain priests nor confirm members of the church.  Apparently, the Canaan Parish Anglicans were only irregularly served by the rectors of St. Paul’s church in Norwalk and St. John’s in Stamford, which about one quarter of all Canaan parish families attended.  Occasional services may have been held in the West Road meeting  house, but more likely the building was used only for funeral and lay worship.

 

History of St. Mark's Columbarium

 

The word columbarium now in general use has come to us from the ancient Latin.  In Roman antiquity the word signified either a subterranean sepulcher with niches in its walls for cinerary urns or one of the niches.

 

The idea of creating a Columbarium to contain the ashes of deceased communicants of St. Mark’s was developed in 1977 by two parishioners, Evelyn Hamilton and Henrietta Rogers, who felt that the need for such a facility was clear, as the beautiful little cemetery yard on West Road, now two hundred years old, rapidly approached capacity.  They felt also that the property behind the church house was an ideal location.  This long-unused area, once the site of formal gardens of the former McLane estate, was graded at three levels, was close to the church itself and was contiguous to other unused St. Mark’s property which could be developed to extend the Columbarium capacity for years to come.

 

James B. Fox of Westport, a landscape architect and horticulturist, was asked to translate these basic ideas into a specific landscape design which would involve minimal maintenance. His professional plan was formally accepted by the Vestry on January 1, 1979. Subsequently the Vestry advanced a sum of $25,000 for construction, this sum to be repaid in annual increments received from the sale of niches.  A building Committee was appointed to work with Mr. Fox, the supervising architect. Members were: Walter Arnold, Evelyn Hamilton, John Kelbaugh and Henrietta Rogers.

 

The Columbarium was constructed during the summer months of 1979.  Stone work was executed by Vona Brothers, masons, of Norwalk.  Young’s Nurseries of Wilton planted the garden area.  The simple cross made from dogwood found on St. Mark’s property was designed by James Gamble Rogers, III, an architect of New York City who was a confirmand of St. Mark’s.

 

Legend has it that crude crosses of the kind on which Christ was crucified were made from a species of dogwood indigenous to Biblical lands.  The cross was made by Robert L. Westlake, a skilled local woodworker. However, the slender trunk of the dogwood tree, from which the original cross was fashioned, proved to be pervious to annual inroads of winter weather.  It was replaced in 1987 by a cross made of teak wood by the Jelliff Mill in New Canaan.

 

The Columbarium was consecrated by the Rev. Alfred H. Whisler, Rector, with the assistance of the Rev. Philip Lyman and the Rev. Frederick M. Morris on Sunday, November 4, 1979.

 

The Columbarium Walls

 

St. Anselm’s Wall • St. Bede's Wall • St. Columbia's Wall 

The original memorial walls in the St. Mark’s Columbarium garden were constructed in 1979 and have been named for saints of the early church who had direct and powerful influences on our own Anglican church tradition.

 

Azalea Wall 

In 1988, when there was a growing need for more space in the Columbarium, the Azalea Wall was constructed.  It was designed by the Columbarium’s original architect.  The center of the wall is circular, encasing a beautiful azalea garden. Simple straight walls extend from either side of the circle.

 

St. David's Wall

Another wall was added to the Columbarium in 1990, completing the use of the upper terraces of the old garden.  Mr. Fox designed the new wall, which was named for another saint of the early church in the continuing tradition established when the first walls were constructed.

 

In 1998, St. David’s Wall was extended on both sides of the Columbarium to provide additional niches for future interments.

 

History of the Saints

 

St. Anselm (1033-1109)

Born in Piedmont, in Italy, Anselm spent a carefree youth of travel and schooling inBurgundy.  As a young man he became a disciple of Lanfranc, the famed theologian who was prior of the monastery of Bec and became Archbishop of Canterbury.

 

Anselm joined the monastery in 1060, later to be named prior and subsequently abbot of Bec.  Because of monastic holdings in England, he became involved in English public life, where he won the recognition and esteem of William the Conqueror.

 

Anselm, who succeeded Lanfranc as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093, successfully disputed the right of King William II to install him as archbishop, reserving this right to the Pope in Rome.  A new dispute over lay investiture broke out when Anselm refused to consecrate bishops and abbots nominated by the king.  Anselm was banished but eventually persuaded King Henry I to surrender the right of investiture, in exchange for a share of church revenues.  This compromise established papal supremacy in the English church for the next 450 years, until Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy (1534), which resulted in the “modern” breach between the English church and the church at Rome. 

 

Through his writings Anselm is regarded as the founder of Scholasticism.  A strict Augustinian, he believed in an essential harmony between revelation and reason.  He was the first to incorporate Aristotelian dialectics in theology. Anselm was recognized as a saint and was named Doctor of the Church in 1720.  His feast day is celebrated on April 21.

 

St. Bede (c.673-735)

Bede was an 8th century English historian.  A Benedictine monk, called the Venerable Bede, he spent his whole life at the monastery of Wearmouth near Durham in northeastEngland.  He was probably the most learned man of his time in western Europe.

 

Bede’s theological, historical and scientific treatises constitute a summary of the learning of his time.  His “Ecclisiastical History of the English Nation”, written in Latin, gives the most reliable contemporary account of the triumph of Christianity, of the growth of Anglo-Saxon culture and of the political events bearing on these developments.  The “Ecclesiastical History” has been translated many times; the best edition is “Bedea Opera Historica” (ed. By Charles Plummer, 1896).

 

Long venerated in the church, Bede was officially recognized as a saint in 1899 and was named Doctor of the Church, the only Englishman so honored.

 

St. Bede’s feast day is celebrated on May 27.

 

St. Columbia (521-597) or, St. Columcilli

(kol’m-kile; Irish dove of the church).

Columba was born in Ireland, became a missionary to Scotland, and was known as the Apostle of Caledonia.  A prince of the O’Donnells of Donegal, he was educated at Moville and Clonard, and founded the monastery schools of Derry, Durrow and Kells.  (The Book of Kells, a beautifully illuminated manuscript of the Latin Gospels, with notes on local history, was found in the ancient Kells monastery.  Believed to have been written in the 8thcentury, it is generally regarded as the finest example of Celtic illumination and is now one of the treasures of the Trinity College Library in Dublin.) In 563, Columba and several companions sailed to evangelize Scotland.  They landed inIona, where they established their center.  Thence they went about the Highlands and the northern Lowlands spreading the gospel.  Before Columba’s death, northern Scotland was entirely Christian.

 

St. Columba ranks with St. Patrick and St. Bridget as one of the three patron saints of the Gael; he is honored and revered in the Presbyterian Highlands as in Catholic Ireland, and he is supposed to be buried with them at Downpatrick.

 

St. Columba’s feast day is celebrated June 9.

 

St. David (c.520-c.600)

David was the patron saint of Wales and was born near St. Bride’s Bay, Pembrokeshire. He moved the seat of ecclesiastical government from Caerleon to Menevia which still, as present day St. David’s is the cathedral city of the western see.  As Bishop of Menevia in the 6th century and a zealous missionary, David founded churches throughout South Wales.  (More than fifty churches named for him exist in the twentieth century.)  He was canonized in 1120 and his shrine at St. David’s became a notable place of pilgrimage inGreat Britain in the Middle Ages. On his feast day, March 1st, the National Welsh Festival is still celebrated.

 

 

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