Tales of the Crypts
Since 1962, a bronze-and-marble alcove at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery's impressive Mausoleum of the Apostles has been set aside for the spiritual leaders of a flock that now numbers about 560,000 Catholics in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
The Rev. Floyd L. Begin, the diocese's first bishop, is the only occupant of the 10-space niche off the mausoleum's chapel, resting in solitary splendor since his death in April 1977.
Now, plans are under way to disinter Begin's body and entomb it in a crypt for him and his successors at the Cathedral of Christ the Light — now under construction — in Oakland.
The Rev. Mark Wiesner, diocesan spokesman, said an underground mausoleum will be part of the cathedral at Grand Avenue and Harrison Street in downtown Oakland. It is across Lake Merritt from the current diocesan office on Lakeshore Avenue.
Transparent glass around the new cathedral's altar will allow light from the heavens to shine into the mausoleum below. Drawings and design plans on the cathedral Web site show the light symbolically uniting saints above, saints among us, and saints buried below.
Begin was one of the "Hoban boys" of Cleveland -- the many proteges of Archbishop-Bishop Edward Hoban who became a veritable farm-team of episcopal leadership.
In other body-moving news, I'm hearing that the exhumation of the remains of Cardinal William O'Connell -- Boston's first prince of the church -- is almost at hand. In the years since the archdiocese sold the Brighton property on which O'Connell's grand mausoleum is located, the cardinal's family and the Boston archdiocese have been in, um, "discussions" as to where the tomb of the second archbishop, who served from 1907-44, would end up.
In planning his mausoleum, shown in the photo above, O'Connell picked a site on a hill which had been the burial ground of the Sulplicians who taught at St John's Seminary, which is on the chancery campus. The legendary story in Boston was that, to get his plot, the cardinal ordered the Sulplicians to dig up their own and cart them away.
What goes around, comes around.
And word is that another episcopal corpse was moved back to Hartford last week. Always happens in threes, eh?
PHOTO: Brighton Allston Historical Society