The weekend before Thanksgiving my daughter and her husband moved into their first home together in St. Paul, Minnesota. It is located in an old neighborhood near Calvary Cemetery.
Irish ancestors lived in St. Paul since the State of Minnesota was formed in 1858 and are buried in this Catholic Cemetery. It made me happy that our children remembered some of these details and asked questions to learn more.
Over Thanksgiving weekend we had very dear family friends visiting from out of state and we went to check out the newlyweds new home. Following a fun dinner at a neighborhood bar and restaurant, we decided it would be fun to stop in the cemetery.
First we stopped at the graves of our ancestors John Doyle (1847 – 1899) and Johanna Guiney (1849 – 1912). Both were Irish and have a long history here in Minnesota. Next, we drove to the other side of the Cemetery with a wonderful night view of downtown St. Paul.
Near the crest of the hill in the cemetery we saw the graves of the first Catholic Bishops in St. Paul and John Ireland who became the first Archbishop of St. Paul. He was appointed Pastor in St. Paul and married my second great grandparents in 1867. As we stood there in the dark, goose bumps raced up my arms as I realized the date was November 24thand that it was the 150thWedding Anniversary for these Irish ancestors.
The next evening, we attended the wedding in downtown St. Paul, for the daughter of good friends. It was only a couple blocks from where my ancestors lived and we learned the groom has Irish heritage. The ceremony included an Irish tradition of blessing the hands.
Blessing of the Hands
These are the hands of your partner, young and strong and full of love, holding your hands as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future. These are the hands that will hold you and comfort you in grief and uncertainty. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and joy. These are the hands that will hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength. And these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
Again, goose bumps and a deep happy feeling grew inside me as we stood, in a beautiful old building in downtown St. Paul, very close to the place where an Irish wedding took place 150 years ago, experiencing a traditional yet modern ceremony where two young people began their life together. It was an unexpected, inspiring and meaningful way to celebrate this ancestral wedding anniversary keeping their memory alive. I believe sometimes there are guiding hands connecting us with our heritage our paths in life and all we need to do is pay attention.