The Spirits of Saint Mary's

Saint Mary's Catholic Church has a rich history in Nashville. When it was founded in 1847, it was one of the largest structures in Nashville, and was the center of Nashville's Catholic community. Today, it is a beautiful historic structure which holds much importance for the city of Nashville.

Given its long history, it will come as no surprise that the church is allegedly home to some ghosts. For many years, certain clergyman at the church have told stories about a ghost which roams the church. The ghost was supposedly first seen by a housekeeper during the 1930s. Monsignor John Morgan also had a frightening encounter with the spirit in 1937. He was awakened by a pounding on the door. He fell back asleep, but then heard the knocking again, this time on the headboard of his bed. He jumped out of the bed, but couldn't find the source.

There are at least three tales which account for the origin of the ghost. One claims that a priest died in during the construction of the church. The second one says the ghost of a former chaplain haunts the church. During the Civil War, a Catholic priest serving as a chaplain for the Confederate Army was shot. He was rushed to the church, but died there. Now he haunts the church, or so the story goes.

The most common story holds that the ghost is the spirit of Bishop Richard Pius Miles, the first bishop of the Diocese of Nashville, who died in 1860. He was buried in the church basement. His remains were discovered in 1969, and since then there has been little or no ghostly activity in the church. Perhaps he is finally at peace.

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©2002-2005 John Norris Brown. Part of John Norris