More than 160 children who died in the early 1900s are embraced by church

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When he heard the question -- "Do you want to know where the others are buried?" -- Aristotle Flessor knew the mystery that haunted his family was far greater than he imagined.

It wasn't just his sister-in-law who was buried in an unmarked grave in Evergreen Park more than 70 years ago, but 160 other young children had graves, mostly unmarked, there as well, a cemetery worker told him.

Stunned, Flessor took that information back to his friends at Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Palos Hills. And, together, they worked to erect a monument in honor of the dead, calling it "A Child of God Memorial."

Flessor, who first inquired about his relative three years ago, didn't live long enough to see the monument, which is set to be unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday at Evergreen Cemetery and Mausoleum.

But a longtime friend and fellow parishioner, Frank Manta, carried on his work, visiting the cemetery and learning the names of the children. Manta, with a group of supporters, including Flessor's brother, Lee, raised about $52,000 for the monument: a 6-ton black granite marker that stands more than 7 feet high.

The monument bears the names of the deceased and includes a statue of Christ with two small children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildren

Posted August 28, 2007 at 11:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Ad Orientem wrote:

I find this rather peculiar and wonder why these infants were buried separately and apparent;y often in unmarked graves.  These are not Roman Catholics who until fairly recently were taught that unbaptized babies don’t go to heaven.  According to the article these are Greeks.  The Orthodox Church has never endorsed such a strange doctrine.

August 28, 3:28 pm | [comment link]
2. Alice Linsley wrote:

I note that the search for baby Helen lead to the adoption of the cemetary project by a Greek Orthodox church which has St. Helen as a patrona.

August 29, 12:38 am | [comment link]
3. Dee in Iowa wrote:

# 1 - It was not unusual back then for a family, short on money, would bury a small child in the “children’s section” of the cemetery.  These graves were cheaper as they were small and only one plot need be purchased.  You might find such a section in a city cemetery.  Most churches did require a purchase of grave space or a “family plot”.

August 29, 9:04 am | [comment link]
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