In this morning's Globe, I have a story about the Catholic Church's efforts to relocate the remains of Cardinal William H. O'Connell, who was buried under a small chapel behind his house in Brighton in 1944. Trouble is, the land has since been sold to Boston College, the cardinal's alma mater, and the university has said it doesn't think the campus is the appropriate place for the cardinal's remains. So yesterday, the archbishop of Boston (Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley) and the Boston College board of trustees jointly filed a petition with the Suffolk Probate and Family Court asking for permission to relocate the burial site to the campus of St. Sebastian's School in Needham.
The Archdiocese of Boston, writing an epilogue to one of the more colorful stories in the history of Catholic Boston, asked a court yesterday for permission to unearth the entombed body of Cardinal William H. O’Connell and relocate his remains to the grounds of a suburban prep school.
The proposed disinterment is rich with historical irony, because when O’Connell first purchased land in Brighton as a headquarters for the archdiocese, he insisted that the remains of a group of Sulpician priests be dug up and removed from the property.
Now, six decades after his death, the cardinal’s body may be exhumed from the same acreage because his own alma mater, Boston College, has insisted that the archdiocese remove the cardinal’s remains as a condition of the university’s purchase of the Brighton property.
“It is no longer possible to honor the late cardinal’s wishes relative to his burial,’’ Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and the trustees of Boston College said in a joint filing in Suffolk Probate and Family Court yesterday. “The petitioning parties seek this court’s approval to reinter the cardinal’s remains on a site approved by the court.’’
The good folks at Boston.com have scanned and posted Cardinal O'Connell's last will and testament (a fascinating read) as well as the complaint for relocation of Cardinal O'Connell's burial site for your perusal.
(Photo above, by the Globe, shows the chapel where Cardinal O'Connell was buried in a crypt beneath the floorboards. The photograph was taken on April 28, 1944, just before the cardinal's burial later that same day.)