Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Haunting of St. Mary's Church---Rhode Island


The Folklore:
According to the popular paranormal website, Haunted Places, St. Mary's Catholic Church in West Warwick, Rhode Island is haunted! The folklore, as related by the site, states that St. Mary's was the first Catholic Church to have been built in Rhode Island. This didn't sit too well with the large Protestant population in the area, and so the story goes, the Protestant congregation 'cursed' the new church, dooming the first person to break ground on its construction to an eternity beneath its walls forever.

A young woman named Mary, often quoted as being the builder's wife, was the lucky one chosen to break ground on the project. As a result, her restless ghost still remains, messing with light switches, blowing out candles, and moving objects about.

The Fact:
St. Mary's Catholic Church is in fact the oldest Catholic Church in Rhode Island. The current church dates back to 1844 and was originally operated under the name of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The need for a Catholic church arose in the 1830s when a boom in  local textile production required skilled laborers from England and Ireland, many of whom were Catholic. On September 23, 1844, Mary Doran, the wife of calico printer Paul Doran, was chosen to be the one to break ground on the construction of the new church. It would be officially dedicated on July 20, 1845.

The official church history leaves out any actual 'curse' put on the church or its members, but this WAS a time period when Irish immigrants, especially those of the Catholic faith, were not well-received in this country, and it stands to reason that there was some friction in town. And whether or not you believe any curse or not, the fact stands that Mary Doran did NOT live a long and prosperous life following her role of breaking ground on the church.

Mary and her husband Paul had two children. Their daughter Elizabeth died at the age of 11 months in May of 1849. She was followed by her ten year old brother, Edward, that December. Mary also perished that year. She passed away at the age of 33 years old, on October 1, 1849. Being that three members of the family died the same year, so close together, indicates that there was probably some illness or epidemic that struck them. In 1849, there was a major outbreak of cholera sweeping throughout the country, which would be my best guess as to what happened to the family.  Paul would live long enough to remarry and have at least one more child before he joined his first family in the family plot at the St. Mary's Cemetery. It is true that Mary will spend eternity on the church grounds...but whether or not she is actually HAUNTING the church, you can decide!

Church History
Graveyard Transcription

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