crypt is found beneath the narthex, or vestibule, of the church. The first two
pastors are interred there.
The Final Resting Place of our
First Two Pastors
This is the final resting place of our first two pastors,
Fr. John Stephen Raffeiner and Msgr. Michael May. The tombs are located under the
narthex of Most Holy Trinity Church on Montrose Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
Raffeiner is on the left and May is on the right.
The History of the Crypt
Fr. John Stephen Raffeiner died on July 16, 1861. He was buried
three days later in the parish cemetery (Most
Holy Trinity Cemetery) on Central Avenue, where his
mortal remains rested for thirty-four years. When Msgr. Michael May died on February 11, 1895,
a tomb, constructed of brick and mortar, was immediately built under the
narthex of the church; the new tomb had six vaults (i.e., room enough
for six caskets). According to the wishes of Msgr. May, the remains of Fr. Raffeiner were
to be transferred back to Montrose Avenue and interred in the new tomb.
Accordingly, the two priests, Raffeiner and May, the first two pastors of this great parish, have
rested alongside each other ever since in the crypt of the church.
The four remaining vaults were never used; subsequent city laws
pertaining to the location of burial places later ruled out the
possibility that any others would be interred in our church's crypt.
Click here to see Most Holy Trinity Cemetery
Fr. John Stephen Raffeiner
Msgr. Michael May
The plaque bearing information about Fr. Raffeiner; the "V.G."
after his name is an abbreviation for "Vicar General." In 1843 Raffeiner
was named Vicar General to the German-speaking people of the Archdiocese of New
York; he retained the title and the office within the Diocese of Brooklyn when
it was established in 1853. This is the second resting place for the
mortal remains of Fr. Raffeiner; he was buried first in the parish cemetery on
Central Avenue and then moved here after the death of Msgr. May.
The plaque bearing information about Msgr. May; he also held the
title and office of "Vicar General." In his role as Vicar General he
assumed temporary leadership of the Diocese of Brooklyn after the Most Rev. John
Loughlin, the first bishop of Brooklyn, died on December 29, 1891. Father May
(who had not yet been named “Monsignor”) managed the concerns of the diocese
until the Most Rev. Charles B. McDonnell was installed as the second bishop of
Brooklyn on April 11, 1892.
The door that leads to the crypt is located just off the
vestibule in the east tower–it is under the stairway that leads to the old choir
loft and is within the small passageway
that connects the church and the friary (rectory); a sign on the door reads
There is a narrow and dusty stairway leading down into the crypt.
The actual entrance to the crypt is guarded by a
“jail-like” gate of iron bars.
An old-fashioned “skeleton” key is needed to open the iron gate.
A view into the crypt from outside of the iron gate.
Ornate lamps stand guard on both sides
of the tomb; a brass and iron railing sets it apart, and a wooden kneeler, for
those who wish to say a prayer, is positioned in front.
Click here to continue the
tour of the church (Statuary) (coming soon)