St. Mary's Part of American History

St. Mary's Part of American History

On Sept. 19, 1858, when Bishop John McGill laid the cornerstone of St. Mary's church, little did he know the church would become a triage area, Red Cross landmark, and landmark of a community now dotted with two-car garages and satellite dishes.

A ceremony took place on that September day and a time capsule accompanied the cornerstone, full of newspapers from that period and a list of people connected with the church at that time. The church played a role in the coming Civil War, when Bishop John McGill of the Richmond diocese urged Virginians to do their duty and fight for the Confederacy. The church was strategically located near the railroad when the war started and became involved when Confederate soldiers were stationed at the church. The soldiers abandoned the church to join forces from Manassas for the First Battle of Bull Run.

On August 30, 1862, the Battle of the Second Manassas and Chantilly broke out and a train pulled into Fairfax Station with food and ammunition and a passenger, Clara Barton, who founded the Red Cross. They turned the church into a Union hospital and nursed men from the battle. Many died and were buried on the church grounds.

The church is home to a single Confederate grave.

The church remains a landmark for the area, as well as the American Red Cross.

— Courtesy of a history of St. Mary's by Jeanne Rodrigues and William Hammond, Ph.D.