Graveyard Epitaph Links with Windows – Comerford

The Graveyard Epitaphs

The Graveyard was established about 1820, and the earliest deaths with markers are those of Mary Jane Reilly who died in 1813, Owen McEgan who died in 1819, and Patrick Elroy who died in 1820. A sortable and searchable Excel document containing all we know about the deceased buried here is available: Deceased Listing Oct 11 2020-3

The Windows

The existing church building was approved in 1901, built at a cost of $60,506,  and dedicated in 1908. Certainly an expensive part of the construction was the beautiful stained glass windows, mostly imported from Germany. At least thirty of the windows were apparently given in memorial by parishioners, but it is not clear whether the donations for the windows were part of the $60,506 or were an additional cost.

An Interesting Link – Michael Comerford

It seemed an interesting idea to document the instances in which names on graveyard markers match names of window donors or of persons memorialized in the windows. One prominent name found in both places is that of Michael Comerford, native of Meath Ireland, who departed this life in 1883 at age 85. His epitaph is on the back side of this large monument.

Inside the church, the windows honoring Apostles St. John and St. James Major were given “In Memory of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Comerford.” Below are images of the windows, St. John on the left and St. James Major on the right,  and an enlargement of the memorial message.

About Michael Comerford

An especially interesting thing about this name is that we have a personal testimony from one of the priests at the church during Michael’s life. Father Jeremiah Joseph O’Connell published his 630 page Catholicity in the Carolinas: Leaves Of Its History in 1879, and, on page 216, there is this about Michael Comerford (and his wives):

Michael Comerford is the oldest Catholic now living in the congregation, plain, honest, and without guile; his life was uniform in virtue and piety. Having been twice married, his first wife, who was of French descent, was always first in every undertaking connected with the promotion of religion during the trying and difficult times of the early priests; she taught music and French in the most respectable families in the city, furnished to the church an organ of moderate power, was the first who built up a choir, which she conducted in the most edifying manner. Her maiden name was Dupuy; she died the death of the just, about 1858, leaving no issue. His second wife, Catherine Bogan, is a Catholic lady in the true acceptation of the word; a woman of uncommon generosity, piety, and charity.

Well, it would be nice to know Michaels profession at least! Maybe he was most famous and most appreciated for his skill in choosing pious and talented wives! It is interesting that the engraving on the window is “In Memory of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Comerford” without mentioning the name of the wife. There is a nice marker in the graveyard for first wife, Mary E. Dupuy, who died 24 years before her husband but none for Catherine Bogan, her successor. So probably the memorial is for Michael and Catherine.

And A Final Word on the Windows

This 8 1/2 inch x 11 inch 40 page book about the windows, including some Church history and architecture information is available at the Church office for a modest donation of $10. For those not living in Columbia, a copy can be mailed for a less modest donation of $20 to cover the cost of packing and shipping.

The book was printed in 2015 and reprinted in 2018. For more information about the book, email

To order a copy, mail a $20 check and shipping address to:
Basilica of St. Peter
P.O. Box 1896
Columbia SC 29202


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