The Saints in Heaven: Green Burial at Resurrection Cemetery

by | Jun 17, 2024

Gentle hills of flowing yellow and purple wildflowers, sprinkled with autumn leaves of red and gold, provide a serene and restful reprieve from the city. One would never know they were looking at the green burial section of a cemetery. Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights, to be exact, where The Saints of the Gate of Heaven Preserve saw its first burial in 2019. Walking along the winding path through this beautiful section, boulders mark each area, bearing the names of saints.

Let’s briefly meet the saints intentionally grouped in pairs, by section, overlooking the graves of those who have gone before us.

St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare

St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare are the first saints to greet us as we enter the Green Burial section. St. Francis is perhaps best known for his love and care of God’s creatures and creation. Having grown up in a wealthy household and becoming a well-known soldier, he gave all that up to devote his life to helping the poor. St. Clare also grew up in a wealthy household. After hearing St. Francis’ sermons, she gave up all her wealth to devote her life to prayer and poverty. Other women joined her community, following in the footsteps of St. Francis.

St. John XXIII and St. Katherine Drexel

St. John XXIII is best known for convening over 2,000 bishops for an ecumenical council, now referred to as the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II. He was instrumental in restoring the baptismal rights of all and empowering the lay faithful to active participation in the Church. St. Katherine Drexel used her wealth for the glory of God by dedicating her life to serving Native Americans. Using her trust money, she also funded the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions and founded Xavier University, the first Catholic college established for African American students.

St. Mary Magdalene and St. Joseph

St. Mary Magdalene is well known for following Jesus during his ministry. She was the first to spread the good news that Jesus had risen from the dead. St. Joseph was betrothed to Mary when he found out she was pregnant. He was visited in a dream and told not to divorce her, as the child she carried was conceived by the Holy Spirit. St. Joseph, a carpenter by trade, faithfully married Mary and cared for her and baby Jesus.

St. Patrick and St. Brigid

St. Patrick was kidnapped at 16 and became a slave. After he escaped and ultimately became a bishop, he returned to Ireland to devote his life to the salvation of his oppressors. St. Brigid is believed to have been born a slave. After being baptized by St. Patrick, she had a passion for giving alms, became a nun, and eventually an abbess of Kildare.

St. Oscar Romero and St. Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Oscar Romero became known as a “voice for the voiceless” and was assassinated for calling out the injustices being done to the poor. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, who was scarred and had darkened vision from smallpox, was baptized by a missionary. Her community was upset by her conversion, which put her life in danger. She escaped and, unable to found a convent, took a vow of chastity to continue her life devoted to her faith.

Two new sections are currently being added to the green burial section and are named after St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Thomas Aquinas.

  • St. Catherine of Alexandria, through her philosophical studies, embraced Christianity as truth. Arrested for her belief, she continued leading many to conversion, including her jailer and the emperor’s wife.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas’ family opposed his becoming a Dominican friar, locking him away. Eventually, they freed him to pursue his vocation. His works accumulated into the Summa Theologiae, an exposition on the Catholic faith adapted from the philosophy of Aristotle.

Find time this summer or fall to stroll through the green burial section. The lush green of summer will slowly turn to the deep, rich colors of autumn, offering a quiet refuge to reflect on the lives of the saints, including those who have gone before us.

To find out more about these Saints and our Green Burial area, please click the button below: