St. Mary’s of the Annunciation, Charleston

stained glass

This is a beautiful stained glass window in St. Mary of the Annunciation’s Catholic Church, the first Catholic Church in South Carolina. The original building was founded in 1789 but this is the third church on the same site. It is quite an unusual architectural design for a Catholic church and I don’t think I have ever seen one quite like this.

St. Mary's of the Annunciation, Charleston, SC

St. Mary’s of the Annunciation, Charleston, SC

I went early to visit and to my delight was the only person there. Old churches and mosques can be so busy with tourists that you miss the reverential feel of an ancient place of worship. I went straight to light a candle and this time I prayed for everyone. The church was relatively small but so beautiful, especially inside. Just as I left, I remembered to bless myself from the font and be grateful for all that I have.

St. Mary's Nave

St. Mary’s Nave

Behind the church was a lovely little graveyard but these were the saddest little gravestones I have ever seen. They must have been for stillborn children because there was no name, just a single date. So sad, and yet touching that they had been remembered in this way.

stillborn graves
My maternal family name is McHugh, it is an Irish name and not that common with that spelling. So, at least one of my namesakes had money because this is a fancy memorial.

Rich ancestors?

Rich ancestors?

This is the first time I have ever seen a McHugh stone in a graveyard, except for my own family. Recently we discovered McHugh’s in America who had emigrated generations back and we even have a mysterious photograph of my great-grandmother taken in Boston when we thought she had never left the farm in Sligo? One American McHugh I spoke to was very disappointed that my pure Irish heritage was tainted in so many ways. The dropped me like a hot potato – get it? Potato? Irish? I am pretty sure that my snobby Conquistador ancestors would feel much the same way. 🙂
Charleston is full of churches of every denomination and I tried to visit as many as possible, including their fascinating graveyards. More in the next post.

39 thoughts on “St. Mary’s of the Annunciation, Charleston

  1. I’m only a church-goer when I travel and have a camera in hand, but I do truly appreciate their beauty.

    Graveyards are also some of my favourite tourist stops. There is so much history, so many questions, so many mysteries. The tiny row of headstones is sad, indeed. I imagine you’re right about the little ones who were laid to rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked the outside of this church – so interesting looking. I like you go visit graveyards, there is a great deal of history in Charleston. Thanks for sharing, enjoyed this post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have some Irish ancestors too. The names they came to this country with were Cavanaugh, and McCue, they all settled on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. Funny you mentioned conquistadors…my mother just had her DNA done and we were surprised that we had Spanish blood in our background…no one had any idea of that. Funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been there once, beautiful church! Many people don’t realize that Catholicism was illegal in SC, don’t remember when it became illegal, but that is probably why the church was built in the downtown area and not near the coast.

    Liked by 1 person

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