The Cathedral, like other places of worship throughout the course of human history, has provided sacred space for burials and the committal of ashes since its founding in the late 19th century. Columbaria, places for the solemn and respectful repose of cremated remains, are an integral reminder within the church of the cycle of life and death, and serve as restful spaces in which to celebrate and remember loved ones. Beginning in the latter half of the 20th century, the Cathedral’s Columbarium has been a peaceful and inclusive resting space for loved ones, joining the luminaries who directed the Cathedral’s first phase of construction and development and who now rest within its walls.
A historic resting place
Prior to the construction of the Columbarium, spaces for the tombs of the Cathedral’s early leadership were identified throughout this hallowed space. The Founder’s Tomb, located in the High Altar, is the resting place of the Right Reverend Horatio Potter, sixth Bishop of New York, who died in 1887. The tomb of the Right Reverend Henry Codman Potter, seventh Bishop of New York, who died in 1908, is located in the Chapel of St. James. The tomb of the Right Reverend William Thomas Manning, tenth Bishop of New York, who died in 1949, is located in the Fatherhood Bay on the north side of the Nave. Directly below the High Altar, in the crypt of the Cathedral, are the tombs of the Very Reverend William M. Grosvenor, Dean of the Cathedral, who died in 1916; the Right Reverend David H. Greer, eighth Bishop of New York, who died in 1919; and the Right Rev. Charles S. Burch, D.D., ninth Bishop of New York, who died in 1920.
The first portion of the Cathedral’s Columbarium was installed in the Stuyvesant Baptistry, which was designed by Cram and Ferguson. One hundred and twenty vaults were built, constructed entirely of marble, becoming one with the very walls of the Cathedral. Within twenty years, no space remained available.
In the 1990s, the Stuyvesant Columbarium expanded through the east entrance of the Baptistry into the 14th century Gothic Chapel of St. Ansgar, designed by William Vaughn. 500 vaults covered in warm tones of Rojo, Amber and Carrera marble were situated under the two great stained-glass windows by Kempe of London depicting Old and New Testament scenes anticipating the Incarnation, and the Acts of the Apostles in the early Church. These vaults, each comprised of up to 4 niches, have now been designated.
“The capstone is made of Perle Blanc limestone, with luminous hues that embody the Old World atmosphere of this beautiful chapel.”
A sacred space
For a new century, the Cathedral has elegantly expanded the Columbarium further into the Chapel of St. Ansgar with an additional 682 vaults, which comprise up to 1,364 niches for the urns. Each vault holds one or two urns, depending on size and location. The capstone is made of Perle Blanc limestone, whose luminous hues embody the Old World atmosphere of this beautiful chapel. The chapel itself provides a quiet meditation space for those visiting and is also a serene place for memorial services preceding committals.
The Columbarium is open to people from all around the world, from every community.
Policies & Pricing
The price of each niche varies from $4,500 to $7,000, depending on location. Payments must be made in full before cremains are received for placement.
Purchase price includes the vault or niche, the urn, the limestone placed on the outside of the vault and the engraving of the limestone, the opening of the vault, the placing of the cremains in the urn, and closing of the vault.
A limestone cover for the outside of the vault is provided by the Cathedral. The cover will bear name and dates of birth and death. No other covering or decoration may be used. Engraving of the limestone is arranged by the Cathedral.
Flowers may be placed within the Columbarium at the discretion of Cathedral staff, but no other items may be placed in the Columbarium. No items may be affixed or attached to a vault.
Neither vaults nor niches may be resold.
Once a niche has been reserved and it comes time to schedule an interment, the details will be finalized with the Office of Pastoral Care.
The Pastoral Care Office is open during regular business hours. The Office of the Columbarium is only staffed on Wednesdays. Visiting hours at the Cathedral may be found at stjohndivine.org. Weekday and Sunday services have resumed; the schedule is available at stjohndivine.org.
To schedule a committal following the purchase of a Columbarium niche, please email [email protected] with the following information:
- Your full name and contact information (email, phone, and address)
- The full name of the deceased and the correct spelling for the marble engraving (no more than 25 characters)
- The full name of the purchaser of the niche
- The date of birth and date of death
- Your preferred time
- Cremains must be delivered to our staff before the service for transfer to a custom urn.
Please do not arrive more than 15 minutes before your scheduled time. Due to the size of the Columbarium, your party may not be more than 12 people. All guests must wear masks while inside the Cathedral. A Cathedral clergyperson will preside over a short committal service. You may choose not to have a service, but a cleric must place the ashes in the niche. Cover stone engraving is completed in concert with an outside vendor. Columbarium staff will communicate about final approvals and timeline. Please allow a minimum of three months.