St Mary's Of Sorrows-Where The Seeds For The American Red Cross Sprouted

Real Estate Agent with Integrity Real Estate Group

St Mary of Sorrows-Fairfax VAWe see signs all around Virginia that say "George Washington Slept Here" but unless you take a step often the beaten path you won't find some of the other signs and sties that helped shape our nation.  One of those signs is hidden in Fairfax Station at the St. Mary of Sorrows Church just off of Route 123.

St Mary of Sorrows Church was built from 1858-1860 with lumber milled locally by railroad workers living in the area. The only item that was purchased to complete the church was the bell installed in the tower. In 1862 one of the worst battles of the Civil War, The Second Battle of Manassas, had thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers battling for control of the area.  With the Fairfax Railroad Depot only a few miles down the road, soldiers from the Second Battle of Manassas were transported to the area and then transferred to the church for treatment.

One of the volunteers who came to St. Mary of Sorrows to care for the wounded was Clara Barton, who made the church her headquarters in 1862. During the worst days of battle over 8000 soldiers are believed to have passed through the area and Clara Barton stayed at the church until the last soldier was evacuated to Washington.

During her time caring for the St Mary of Sorrow Groundswounded at the church she conceived the plans for a "civilian society" that would later become known as the American Red Cross.

Today the church is used 6 days a week for mass and is the sight of numerous weddings. Every year the church grounds are the site of a Labor Day picnic attended by thousands and thought to be the longest running event in the Fairfax County.

The next time you drive through the Fairfax Station area take a few minutes to look at St Mary of Sorrows Church. It is amazing to consider that such as small unassuming white church is the birthplace of an organization that millions of people today depend on whenever a disaster strikes.



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If you are interested in learning more about the Northern Virginia Real Estate market including Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William Counties give Cindy Jones and Integrity Real Estate Group a call at 703-346-2213.

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Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Cindy what a wonderful story about St Mary's of Sorrows ..I just love historical sites and Clara Barton was the first biography I read as a child .She always will have a place in my heart ..

Thanks for the tip


Feb 26, 2012 02:37 AM #1
Lester Wilkins
Blue Water Home Loans NMLS# 166527 - Port Huron, MI

Wow.  Interesting story.  I did not know that.

Feb 26, 2012 02:40 AM #2
Susanna Haynie
CO-RE Group, LLC -Real estate sales and services - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realtor GRI CNE MCNE ePro MRP


I didn't know! Thank you for posting - I love history and this one is particularly powerful!

Feb 26, 2012 03:03 AM #3
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Hi Cindy,

This is so cool! I love the story about St Mary's of Sorrows. You are right..It is amazing to consider that such a small unassuming white church is the birthplace of an organization that millions of people today depend on whenever a disaster strikes. Thank you for sharing.

Feb 26, 2012 03:33 AM #4
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate


There is so much history in our area, I'll never be able to get all of it in my lifetime.


Feb 26, 2012 03:44 AM #5
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Cindy- wish i'd known about this when we lived in Leesburg VA.  There is so much rich history in your area!  Now that I think about it, we probably drove by St. Mary's of Sorrow but had no clue about Clara Barton and the Red Cross. 

Feb 26, 2012 10:48 AM #6
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Cindy Jones

Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News
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