While Tolomato Cemetery had served as an Indian mission in St. Augustine’s First Spanish Period (1565-1763), and probably did have burials in or around the chapel that was located there, no visible evidence of these burials remains.
We don’t have anything like this, for example…
Or even this…the text of which starts “Under this stone…”
These were in, respectively, the cemetery and the churchyard of the parish church of Santiago Tejupan in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, where I recently spent a few days touring various historic (and often remote) churches in the area.
This beautiful church was built by Dominican missionaries in the 16th century, and is still in use as the parish church of this small town. Burials used to be in the churchyard directly in front of the church, but in the 1850s, when Mexico underwent a period of great and sometimes disruptive change known as the Reform, the order went out from Mexico City that cemeteries could no longer be under the control of churches but had to be located elsewhere. In this case, the parishioners just moved it to the outside of the old fence of the churchyard, so it’s still accessible from the church. However, the old burials were left in place. And they are very old indeed.
Above you see the happy visitors (mostly organists touring the historic organs still contained in these churches) taking photos – from the midst of the old churchyard cemetery.