The tiny coffins of the "unwanted dead"

A reader noted this story in the comments, and it’s heart-rending.

From the Boston Herald:

Upon entering this world stillborn, they were abandoned.

Even their names, Andrew and Nicholas, were gifts from the Franciscans who placed two teddy bears — each adorned with miraculous medals — on a linen shroud that covered a pair of white coffins not much bigger than shoeboxes.

Some 16 people made their way to a private chapel in St. Anthony’s Shrine yesterday morning to mourn and pray for the two infants at the heart of a different kind of Nativity story.

They listened to a soloist sing: “Go and sleep my son . . . Go and sleep in peace.”

And they heard Father David Convertino eloquently grapple with the inexplicable in his homily. “Some people say that these babies’ death at this time was God’s will. Don’t believe them,” said St. Anthony’s executive director. “The God we worship, the God who watches over us, doesn’t will the death of babies or the pain of parents.

“While I believe God has welcomed these babies into his kingdom, I am sure God did not want them to die right now so that He could have them there. God does not will grief and pain,” the friar said. “But God is with us in the midst of all the pain and tears.”

Baby Andrew and Baby Nicholas were the fifth and sixth abandoned infants — their tiny bodies left alone in a hospital — whose brief existence was celebrated with a poignant Mass of Resurrection at the Arch Street Shrine this year.

But as part of St. Anthony’s Lazarus Program, they belonged to a larger community of forgotten souls that Father David calls “the unwanted dead.” They include everyone from a homeless Vietnam vet named Florence who lived in South Station to infants who are discarded in Dumpsters.

Read the rest.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them…


  1. pagansister says:

    The death of any baby/child is heart wrenching enough, but to abandon those tiny little ones who entered this world already dead is no excuse for abandoning them in the hospital (or anywhere else for that matter). As hard as it is, I can’t imagine not recognizing them as having existed in utero, though they didn’t make it alive to the “outside”. Where is the love?

  2. Paula Howley says:

    St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver B.C. has an “Angel’s Cradle”. It is an opening on the outside of the hospital where a mother can take her baby and leave it without being criminally charged.
    The baby is placed in a safe ‘cradle’ and pushes the door in so the baby will be ‘in’ the hospital. The woman then has 30 seconds to leave.
    One baby this year was left there- can’t we have these cradles in every hospital?
    Can you imagine the desperation one must feel to do such a thing?

  3. Thanks for posting this. I was hoping that you would. So, so sad…but in a way, beautiful, too. All life has dignity, as these good people show us.

  4. I don’t know about “today” but back in 1963 when my mother lost my younger brother at 6 months; our Dad went out and picked out a coffin for the boy, and he was buried in our parish cemetery.

    A nurse present at the delivery did an emergency baptism with the bath water. (it was not a Catholic Hospital, although many of the doctors, staff and patients were Catholic.

    How tragic that in today’s cold world, a birth of a child who has died, that child is treated as medical waste, like a cancer tumor removed from the body.

  5. Last month, over 1000 people attended the funeral(s) of 17 children found in a dumpster in Lansing, MI. The funeral was held at the Cathedral. This was the most moving and heart wrenching experience I have had in my lifetime. Their tiny coffin was laid in front of the altar and choruses of faithful God-fearing brothers and sisters sang praise to God and gave these tiny children the dignity and value that their own flesh and bone could not/would not give to them. The sermon was about the Holy Innocents. My friend and I were surrounded by the Sisters of the Holy Eucharist during Mass. Many priests from the diocese con-celebrated.

    Traffic was stopped on all roads leading to the cemetery which was quite a trek, with the thousand of witnesses in their cars deeming that these children are humans with souls and worthy of a proper burial. I lost count of how many Knights of Columbus attended but the colorful line of men who defend life at all stages was long and beautiful.

    God bless the bishop of Lansing who presided at the funeral and also the committal. He is truly a man of God.

  6. “The God we worship, the God who watches over us, doesn’t will the death of babies or the pain of parents.
    Oh please!
    Of course it was God’s will! it is only HIS will that we
    are alive right now typing on our keyboards. If He did
    not will us to be alive we would not be, it doesn’t take an Augustine summa to understand that!
    Pain is part of our life, it has been this way since the
    first sin was committed in a garden long ago and far away.
    It was God’s will that brought His Son into this world to suffer, feel pain and die, to show us that beyond that suffering and death there was a new life.. a new incredible place .. mansions that eyes have not seen!
    Catholics, with faith, look beyond the death; whether it be for one breath or ten trillion breaths. Those babies are with our Loving Father and the reason they are there ‘so soon’ is not for us to understand on this side of the Heavens.


  8. pagansister says:

    One of my best friend’s grandchildren died during her birth, no breath ever taken. Her mother held her and told her good bye, and there was a funeral for her. She had a name, and was loved. She wasn’t just left in the hospital. So there are some who love the little one’s who don’t make it. Would that all mothers would care then the priests above would be out of that part of their job! Wouldn’t that be good?


  1. RT @TopsyRT: The tiny coffins of the "unwanted dead"

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  3. RT @DeaconsBench: RT @TopsyRT: The tiny coffins of the "unwanted dead"

  4. RT @TopsyRT: The tiny coffins of the "unwanted dead"

  5. New Advent says:

    The tiny coffins of the "unwanted dead"

  6. New Advent says:

    The tiny coffins of the "unwanted dead"

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