The Columbarium

Open to All

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 storage 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, constructed entirely of marble, becoming one with the very walls of the Cathedral, were built. 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.

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, depending upon size and location, can hold one or two urns. 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. Vaults can be purchased in advance, or at the time of need.

Policies & Pricing

  • The price of each niche varies from $4,000 to $5,500, 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.

A Simple Protocol

We know that choosing to entrust the Cathedral with the earthly remains of someone you love is an emotional investment, and we will strive to be worthy of this trust.

Once a niche has been reserved and it comes time to schedule an inurnment, the details will be finalized with the Office of Pastoral Care. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced adjustments to how we receive you and commend your beloved to the care of God.

To schedule, please email pastoralcare@stjohndivine.org 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

Ashes must be given to our staff before the service. We will transfer them into an urn made to fit our Columbarium. Please arrange to bring the ashes before your scheduled time by emailing pastoralcare@stjohndivine.org. We cannot receive ashes by messenger or by mail.

A Respectful Process

Regulations for inurnments are necessarily restrictive at this time. We know this is far from ideal, but we must err on the side of caution with respect for human life.

  • 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 seven people.
  • All guests must wear masks and consent to be temperature-checked at the doors of the Cathedral.
  • All guests who are not members of the same household must practice physical distancing of 6 feet at all times, including with members of our staff.
  • 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.
  • Please allow three months for the marble engraving to be completed.

A Place for You to Remember and Pray

You may visit the Columbarium during the hours when the Cathedral is open to the public. Please check the Cathedral’s website for updates.

For More Information

For more information on the Columbarium, please contact the Office of Pastoral Care at 212-316-7483 or email pastoralcare@stjohndivine.org.

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