Holy Cross Cemetery memorializes infants in special area

Cherubs mark a gravestone at Holy Cross Cemetery on James Island.

JAMES ISLAND—God’s smallest angels received some special attention at Holy Cross Cemetery recently from a local Boy Scout.

The youth, Metz Prause, who was working to attain his Eagle Scout badge, devoted his time and effort to renovate an area known as the Angel Memorial Garden. This little area of small, white crosses is where babies are buried when the family only needs a spot for their child inside the Catholic cemetery.

Karmin Meade, director, said these infants are mostly the children of service members and other families who are only in South Carolina temporarily. When the family is eventually transferred, there is no one left to take care of the burial site, so Holy Cross, years ago, designated an area specifically for those children.

“We want to make sure the babies are memorialized properly,” Meade said.

A statue of Madonna and Child watches over the Angel Memorial Garden at Holy Cross.

As part of the Eagle Scout project, the youth first cleaned the area then lined up all the headstones and leveled them. Some had been there so long they were hidden under layers of soil. In addition to the markers, each small grave is also memorialized with a simple white cross that the cemetery installs and maintains.

Meade said the diocese also installed a fence around the garden area and moved a statue of Madonna and Child there as a fitting tribute.

The beautification efforts at the Angel Memorial Garden are just one of many changes Holy Cross has made. Meade said they’ve also added three new columbarium for cremation niches. Located at the back of the cemetery near the vault spaces, each of the columbaria are marked with statues of Mary or Jesus and are surrounded by walkways and gardens. 

The two statues of Jesus were moved from other areas of the cemetery. Meade said she plans to turn those spots, where Jesus used to stand, into an intimate garden for reflection and prayer, with fountains and small walls containing cremation spaces surrounding it.

As more Catholics choose the option of cremation, Meade said it is important to have the columbaria available on sacred soil.

Visitors said they appreciate the efforts and the peaceful, welcoming environment. 

A professor from the College of Charleston said he is especially fond of the additional butterfly bushes that were planted. He often comes out when the plants are in bloom to document the various species.

Holy Cross workers also created a marker display area outside the office so people can easily view the types of headstones available. 

Still on the wish list for the cemetery is more irrigation. Meade said their hope is to find funding to cover the cost of sprinkler systems for at least part of the acreage.