What is a Columbarium?

By June 12, 2019Beauty From Ashes

Columbarium InteriorQ & A on Our Construction Project:

Question: Last week you mentioned that we were building a “columbarium” in the Whilden Street Courtyard.  What exactly is a columbarium?

Answer: A columbarium is a place for the repose of cremated remains. The word comes from the Latin, “columba,” which means, “dove.” Originally, the term columbarium was used to describe the compartmentalized housing for doves and pigeons called a “dovecote.” The niches that comprise the columbarium have a visible resemblance to the dovecote.


Question: Why a columbarium?

Answer: The church has for centuries incorporated a graveyard as a part of their grounds. The burial of the faithful dead around the church reflected the centrality of the Christian faith and parish in the life of the community.  And so, as Christians, we are interred side-by-side with Christian brothers and sisters waiting together for the full arrival of God’s Kingdom. I also find one particularly compelling reason to include a columbarium; the simple reminder that we will die. In the West, we do not “do” death well. Our columbarium will be the final repose of men and women who had breath and bone, who walked the earth with hopes and faith.  As I am now, they once were. As they are now, so I will be. As Christians, we hold to a hope of which our columbarium will be a daily reminder; namely, all things save one shall pass away: only the Gospel of Christ and His victory over the grave remains.


Question: How many people will the columbarium accommodate?

Answer: Phase 1 will have 384 niches into which the cremated remains will be placed.  The space is being constructed with the capability for future expansion, as needed, and will ultimately be able to hold 724 niches.


Question: Where will the columbarium be located?

Answer: If you are standing on Whilden Street facing Sams Hall, the columbarium will be on the left hand side of the courtyard. (The photo at the bottom is the view from the courtyard in front of Sams Hall.)


Question: Will there be any other elements to the columbarium besides the niches?  

Answer: Yes. As you can see in the rendering above there will be internal gardens, seating/reflection areas, and an outdoor chapel.  What you cannot clearly see is that the courtyard area will also be re-landscaped around the columbarium creating seating areas for meditation/reflection.


Question: When will construction begin?

Answer: We anticipate construction to begin sometime in July 2019. It will be included in the hardscape project around the Old Church of which I wrote last week.  We expect construction will be completed sometime this fall.


Question: How can I obtain a niche?

Answer: Lewis Middleton is currently collecting names of those interested in being interred in the columbarium.  If you would like to add your name to the list or to obtain more information, please contact Lewis (LMiddleton@StAndrews.Church).

In the family,
Steve & Jacqui


Columbarium Exterior