A working farm provided a refuge for religion at the cost of freedom for enslaved laborers.
The history of Saint Ignatius Church reaches back to the English colony of Maryland. Lord Baltimore, the colony's founder, recruited Jesuit priests to serve the first Catholic settlers and support religious toleration in the colony. Father Andrew White selected this site close to local Native American communities.
These 4,000 acres became known as Saint Thomas Manor in 1649. Farm revenues supported the Jesuit's works throughout the colonies, and a church building here allowed Catholics to worship on private land undisturbed.
(Image of the church.)
An aerial view from 1944 shows the other side of the manor from where you stand.
(Image of document.)
By 1700, Saint Thomas Manor, like many farms in the colony, relied on enslaved Africans as farm workers. In 1830, 272 slaves were sold across Jesuit plantation in Maryland, including families here at Saint Thomas Manor.
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This project has been financed in part with state funds from the Maryland Heritage
Areas Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.