St. Mary's City in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
An End of Freedom but Persistence of Faith
The population grew and in 1776, Maryland had the largest number of Catholics of any of the thirteen colonies. Charles Carroll of Maryland became the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence and he provided much financial support to the Revolutionary War effort.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution from the Bill of Rights, ratified 1791
After the Revolution, religious freedom returned and the Catholic population in Maryland became the cornerstone of the Catholic Church in the new United States. John Carroll, trained as a Jesuit, and cousin of Charles Carroll, became the first bishop in the United States, with Baltimore the first diocese.
In 1806, Bishop Carroll began building an impressive cathedral in Baltimore. this church was the direct descendent of the small brick chapel built at St. Mary's City in the 1660s. In a real sense, St. Mary's is the birthplace of the modern Roman Catholic Church in the United States.
John Carroll, of Prince George's County, was a Jesuit priest. In 1789, he became the first bishop of the of the Roman Catholic Church in the new United States. His grandfather worshiped in the Brick Chapel after his arrival in Maryland in 1688. Bishop Carroll also founded Georgetown University.
Designed by renowned architect Benjamin Latrobe, this elegant classical structure was meant to be the center of the newly established Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Constructed between 1806 and 1821 as the first urban cathedral in the new country, it was, for the time, the most architecturally advanced building in the nation, only superseded by the U. S. Capitol, which also involved Latrobe.
Whereupon it was ordered by His Excellency, the Governor, that the Sheriff of St. Maries County lock up the said chapel and keep the key thereof. Proceedings of the Upper House of the Assembly, 1704
When the sheriff locked the chapel door in 1704, he was ordered to keep the key. In 1990, a family in Virginia showed an old key to HSMC archaeologists. Family legend told that it was the key to the earliest church in St. Mary's. Genealogical research suggests that the family is related to John Coode, Jr., the sheriff who locked the door. This key guided the creation of a new lock and key for the chapel.
Newly created key for the chapel—based on the original?
Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Signers of the Declaration of Independence marker series.
Location. 38° 10.992′ N, 76° 25.716′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5) 0.4 miles west of Rosecroft Road, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 16721 Point Lookout Road, Saint Marys City MD 20686, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Chapel Architecture (here, next to this marker); The "Priests' House" (here, next to this marker); "...buried...in a most solemn manner" (here, next to this marker); Project Lead Coffins (here, next to this marker); Putting Together the Pieces (here, next to this marker); The Brick Chapel's History (here, next to this marker); Sacred Ground and Holy Buildings (here, next to this marker); Andrew White, Apostle to Maryland (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
Categories. • Churches & Religion • Colonial Era • Notable Events • War, US Revolutionary •
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Credits. This page was last revised on September 2, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 65 times since then. Photo 1. submitted on September 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.