What is a Columbarium?

A columbarium is a permanent resting place for cremated remains. The word “columbarium” is derived from the Latin word “columba”, or “a nesting place for doves.” The early Christians in Rome used the term “dovecote” to describe the catacombs, where they not only interred the dead, but also sought refuge and worshipped during times of persecution. The dove of peace, symbol for the Holy Spirit, has always been associated with the Resurrection.

From ancient times, Christians have considered places of burial to be sacred sites where the departed are remembered and honored. They are places for quiet remembrance, for prayer, for families and loved ones to gather. They are places of peace.

History of Saint Mark's Columbarium

The Chapel of the Resurrection was opened in 1969. Initial funding for the columbarium was generously provided by Cathedral members Joshua and Laura Green who in coversation with Dean John Leffler established a trust to both fund the construction and upkeep of the columbarium and to fund projects related to “completing the Cathedral.” Payments for niches become part of this endowment trust.

Who may purchase a niche?

Anyone is welcome to be buried in the Chapel of the Resurrection. There are separate pricing structures for members and nonmembers. Anyone who is an active participant in a parish in the Diocese of Olympia qualifies for the member rate. It is possible to purchase multiple niches for family members.

How to get started

Many people choose to purchase a niche long before they actual need it. That is an excellent thing to do and your family will thank you!

Niche Styles & Pricing

There are two different styles of niches in our columbarium.

  • The first is a niche with a bronze faceplate, available in both single and double sizes. Ashes are transferred into a very simple container that we provide and placed behind the bronze faceplate. The faceplate has a plaque with the name and years of birth and death of the occupant.
  • The second is a niche with a glass front, intended to house and display a separate urn provided by the family. The glass-front niches come in a variety of widths, including some wide enough to accommodate multiple urns.

Prices start at $1,000 for members and $1,200 for non-members (for a single bronze-fronted niche). The size of the niche determines the cost. A complete price list may be found here.

NOTE: A conversation has begun about the possibility of interring ashes in a garden area of the front lawn. The first such interment occurred in January 2019. Please ask if you are interested in learning more about this option.

Christian practice of cremation

As Christians, we regard burning as a properly reverent way of disposing of objects which have been blessed for religious use, e.g. prayer books, altar linens, etc. If it is appropriate to burn what has been set apart and used to the glory of God, how much more so, is it appropriate to cremate the human body and to inter the remains in a receptacle housed in a columbarium.
It is comforting to know that the ashes of our dear ones will be placed in a columbarium in a church consecrated to the worship and service of God. In our columbarium, the names of those interred in the niches will remind us to pray for the souls of the faithful departed.
The columbarium allows present members of the church to make important decisions about the disposal of their earthly remains. Members are secure in the knowledge that their families will not have to decide what will happen to their loved one’s body nor will they have to bear the financial burden.

Contact us

If you are ready to move forward, please contact Sacristan Michael Seewer, mseewer@saintmarks.org or 206.323.0300, to schedule an appointment to select a niche.

About the Resurrection Icon

The icon housed in the Chapel of the Resurrection was commissioned for the St. Petersburg–Seattle Sister Church Program. It was “written” by Russian iconographer Yakov Prokofiev, blessed by Metropolitan Vladimir, and brought to Seattle in August, 2011. The Icon represents Jesus standing over the broken gates of Hell, lifting Adam and Eve out of their graves with kings and prophets and patriarchs looking on.

From time to time, the icon travels to various churches in the Seattle area, most frequently during the Easter season. Saint Mark's members Dick and Jane Carter, who were instrumental in commissioning of the icon made the excellent suggestion, which we have gratefully accepted, that when it is not on tour the icon find a permanent home in our Chapel of the Resurrection. You are welcome to come see the icon when the building is open—the Chapel is opened by request.