St. Bridget of Erin
St. Bridget of Erin was built by the Irish community in an area known as Kerry Patch. The crypt at St. Bridget of Erin housed the remains of those whose families had moved out of the city or who were unidentifiable until the 1980s when they were relocated to Calvary Cemetery. St. Bridget of Erin was torn down in 2016.
St. Louis Post Dispatch article with drawings of the crypt
St. Louis Post Dispatch article with photographs of the tombstones
St. Louis Post Dispatch article with photographs of the crypt
St. Louis Post Dispatch photograph of the outside of St. Bridget of Erin
Backstory and Context
The Archdiocese of St. Louis was not spared from the changing St. Louis environment. Every time the city limits were expanded, they had to relocate graves. St. Bridget of Erin was built in 1859. The dirt floor basement would become a crypt to house the remains at Rock Springs Cemetery who were not identified or whose family was no longer in the area to help relocate them to Calvary Cemetery.
Some headstones were also piled up in the corner of the crypt, and in some spots, the headstones were used to pave the dirt floor of the crypt. Based on the headstones, those entombed at St. Bridget of Erin Crypt were of Irish, English, German, French, and African American descent.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch would describe the human remains in the crypt as glistening " in the candlelight, and the rows of teeth gleam at you." Both the drawing below and the photograph above show the human remains piled up in an unorganized way. It is unclear why this was done instead of grouping the bones.
As the definition of whiteness changed and Irish immigrants gained a white status in society, they moved out of Kerry Patch and abandoned St. Bridget of Erin. By the early 1900s, the community changed around St. Bridget of Erin to an African American community. One thing would stay the same regardless of demographics; St. Bridget of Erin was always a church for the poor.
The relocation of St. Bridget's crypt was handled in April of 1963 when the remains were placed into a mass grave at Calvary Cemetery. Reverend Shocklee and Reverend Hartnett handled the coordination of their relocation.
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