Columbarium & Memorial Garden
The University of Richmond Columbarium is a serene and beautiful garden on the east side of the Chapel and serves as a private and peaceful final resting place.
Contact Molly Field, manager of the Columbarium, for information about cremation, inurnment, and scattering of ashes. Molly's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The word "columbarium" derives from the Greek word “kolumbos” meaning “diver.” The Romans then used this to form the word “columba” for “dove,” or “diving bird.” So the word columbarium originally referred to a compartmentalized structure for the nesting of doves, but because they were so similar in appearance, it was then also used to name a burial vault for the containment of urns holding cremated human remains. The University’s Columbarium, like other such structures, is restricted to that traditional use—the inurnment of cremated human remains.
The University's Columbarium and Memorial Garden is found on the east side of Cannon Chapel. Brick walkways provide comfortable access and its location, while close to the chapel, still provides privacy for services, visits, and prayer. In structure, the Columbarium is composed of individual niches that can accommodate up to two urns each. Each niche has a granite cover, which can be engraved much like a traditional gravestone, with individual names, birth dates, and dates of death.
The Memorial Garden, surrounding a central fountain, is intended for the scattering of ashes. The name, birth date, and date of death can be engraved on the central memorial plaque in front of the garden. As with any burial site, there are rules and regulations that must be observed; this information can be obtained in greater detail by contacting Molly Field, Columbarium Manager.
Cremation is an ancient practice that has particular relevance for us today, as space on our crowded earth becomes more costly. Cremation is widely recognized as a theologically valid process for the deceased and essentially becomes a hastening of the natural process that occurs following death.
Cremation also accommodates those families who want to have the familiar arrangement with a funeral home that includes visitation hours and services. The funeral home can arrange for cremation to take place following this gathering, and inurnment at the University's Columbarium can be scheduled at the family's convenience. Many families have found that the presence of the urn containing the cremated remains at a memorial service is very meaningful. Please consult a member of the funeral home staff to receive financial information for such arrangements.
One niche in the Columbarium can accommodate one or two urns. Urns and containers are not provided or sold by the University. Arrangements for urns and containers can be made with the funeral home of your choice. Urns and containers must be constructed of metal or another sturdy material like marble or concrete. Wooden and glass urns cannot be used due to their fragile nature.
- If one urn is to be placed, it can be no larger than 9” L x 5-1/2” W x 5-1/2” D
- If two urns are to be placed, they can be no larger than 7” L x 5-1/2” W x 5-1/2” D each
- Urns of either dimension listed above are standard size and can be purchsed through a local funeral home and are also available from many different internet retailers. We recommend the sheet bronze niche urn sold by Eickhof Columbaria.
Qualified individuals may be inurned in the Columbarium for three thousand dollars ($3,000.) Qualified individuals include:
- Alumni, degree-seeking students, faculty, retired faculty, staff, retired staff, trustees (current, former, and emeriti).
- Children, parents, and spouse of those listed above are eligible to be inurned in the Columabrium as well.
Each niche holds up to two urns. At least one urn in each niche must hold the cremated remains of an individual whose affiliation to the University is outlined above.
Qualified individuals may purchase rights to scatter ashes in the appropriate garden location for $350 per person.
Non-qualified individuals, someone whose relationship with the University does not fall into one of the categories listed above, may purchase a niche in section II of the Columbarium for a fee of six thousand dollars ($6,000.) Non-qualified individuals are not permitted to purchase rights to scatter ashes.
For inurnment, you may choose for cremation to be performed shortly after death, followed by a memorial service in the chapel soon after. Alternatively, a memorial service can be conducted at a later date when the family can arrange the desired gathering. The presence of the urn containing the ashes at the service is one of personal choice. Inurnment in the Columbarium can take place before or after the service, or at a later date.
When a family decides to scatter the cremated remains in the Memorial Garden, the ground is prepared so that the ashes can be placed directly in the ground without a container. As with an inurnment, the family can decide when to gather in the garden to do this—before or after a memorial service, or at a later date.
For information about Memorial Services in Cannon Memorial Chapel, including eligibility, visit the Events Office's Memorial Services webpage.