Back from the Dead: Soldiers and Angels
On June 27 and June 28, from 7-10 p.m., The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in partnership with Mount Saint Mary’s will hold Back from the Dead: Soldiers & Angels Cemetery Walk in St. Joseph’s Cemetery at the Shrine. Guests will encounter Civil War soldiers and Sisters who nursed the soldiers in this interactive event.
As attendees walk through St. Joseph’s Cemetery where many Sisters and Daughters of Charity who served as nurses during the Civil War are buried, they will encounter Sister Matilda Coskery, who served the soldiers at Gettysburg. Sister Coskery, in the script for the event, says, “In Gettysburg we ministered to Northerners and Southerners alike, offering to both the benefits of our medical knowledge and the solace of the Holy Mother Church. We baptized many men, some of whom survived their wounds, some who did not. We tended to all, whether they accepted our faith or not, even staying with them to the very end. The hearts of many men seemed affected by our dedication. A Protestant general offered wider praise, saying, ‘The Sisters of Charity have done more for religion during the War than has ever been done in this country before!’”
Guests will also encounter two children who were tended to by the Sisters during the war; Sister Anthony O’Connell, a Sister of Charity; soldiers, and a priest who says, “I’ll never forget one grateful soldier, when, after the sisters had cared for him, looked up to me and said, ‘There is the sister who saved my body and soul.’ ‘She saved my body and soul!’”
Father Brian Nolan, University Chaplain Director at Mount Saint Mary’s University, created Back from the Dead, an evangelization drama, in 2002 after working with college students at McDaniel College who had questions and misconceptions about the supernatural world and life after death. Through prayer, reflection and research, the idea of a Cemetery Walk to teach the faith in a creative way, took form. The Cemetery Walk has spread to college campuses and youth ministries in Maryland and around the country including in North Carolina, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington.
Back from the Dead: Soldiers & Angels focuses on the Sisters and soldiers during the Civil War. The original Back from the Dead event, which the Shrine holds each October, tells the stories of saints and martyrs as they explain the three great virtues of faith, hope and charity.
“With the 150th commemoration of the Battle of Monocacy events, we expect more visitors to our area who are interested in Civil War history. During this commemoration time, we invite the public to visit Emmitsburg and discover our Civil War history in Northern Frederick County,” said Amanda Johnston, marketing manager for the Shrine. “After a full day in Frederick for the Battle of Monocacy events, travel to Mother Seton’s home for Back from the Dead: Soldiers & Angels, an engaging and unique event.”
“Civil War history is rich at the Shrine,” said Rob Judge, executive director of Seton Heritage Ministries. “The war came to Emmitsburg in late June 1863, with the armies of the Potomac and Northern Virginia succeeding each other in St. Joseph’s Valley.” Approximately forty years after Mother Seton’s death in 1821, her home was the site of the Union encampment in 1863.
The event will also offer free access to the Charity Afire exhibit, which tells the compelling stories of the Sisters and Daughters of Charity who served the soldiers as nurses during the Civil War. The exhibit features life-like mannequins depicting a battlefield and hospital scene, a detailed map showing where the Sisters served, large-photo panels, and artifacts. The Civil War documentary “Mine Eyes Have Seen” will also be shown in the Seton Heritage Theater during the event.
Due to the nature of this event, it is recommended for children ages 14 and older. Groups are welcome. A $5 donation per ticket is suggested. Guests should call to reserve tickets, and the tickets will be mailed or given out at the event. The first tour through the cemetery will begin at 7 p.m. and the event will run until 10 p.m.