St. Mary’s was established in 1795, and is the oldest Catholic parish in the Commonwealth of Virginia. To fund the church, Colonel John Fitzgerald, friend of George Washington and an early mayor of Alexandria, took up a collection. According to local tradition, Washington himself made the first donation. A chapel was built at the south end of the city, on land still used today as St. Mary’s Cemetery.
In 1810, St. Mary’s moved to its present location in the heart of the city - 310 South Royal Street. Throughout the 1800s, St. Mary’s played a crucial role in the growth of Catholicism in Virginia. The many mission churches which St. Mary’s established have gone on to become independent parishes within the Diocese of Arlington. Today St. Mary’s has more parishioners than Alexandria had residents when the city was founded. With this new website, St. Mary’s hopes to continue to build the Catholic community with faith, love and service.