Holy Cross Cemetery had its beginning, in the year 1874, as the parochial cemetery of the original St. Mary's Catholic Church, on East Marshall Street, on the north side, between 3rd and 4th streets.

The church was built in 1851 by the large number of German immigrants to the city who had formed their own congregation, in 1843, to have there services conducted in their native language.

In March of 1874, the Benedictine Society of Westmorland County Pennsylvania, that held the patronage of St. Mary's Church, purchased ten and one half acres of land, which is now the northern section of the present Holy Cross Cemetery. It was the nearest possible land to the church at the time. The area was divided into four sections of about 50, 15' by 15' plots. Roads and walkways were laid off, the land was sanctified by the church and rules for the burial of deceased were established. A separate plot was reserved for Catholic priests as well as one for the Benedictine nuns who staffed St. Mary's parish schools.

Sales for the burial plots were almost all made to the parishioners with proceeds going into the parish treasury. A superintendant saw to the maintenance of the grounds and interment of the deceased. The burial records, back then, were located in the church office and maintained by the pastor.

The first burial in St. Mary's cemetery was of a Mr. Joseph Stukenberg on March 29, 1874, 25 days after the land was acquired. In the same year and the year following, the remains of 76 deceased parishioners including 32 infants and children of from St. Mary's, who had been buried in the City's nearby Shockoe Cemetery, where exhumed and transferred to St. Mary's Cemetery. Six burials were also transferred from St. Joseph's or Bishop's Cemetery. The cemetery charged $5.00 for an adult burial and $3.00 for that of a child. Each grave plot had cost $50.00 and there was no perpetual care. Care of plots was done by the cemetery for an annual charge to plot owners. A section, in the addition to those with laid off plots, was retained by the cemetery and made available for no charge to parishioners who could not afford to buy a grave site. A burial charge was made if it could be afforded. The name and date of the burials in this section, Section F, were recorded in the cemeteries chronological record.

For the next twenty-five years burials averaged 48 each year, of which 23 had been of infants and children, five years or less in age. Virtually all burials had been of first and second generation German immigrants with funerals from St. Mary's Church. Elaborate monuments and copings were placed on many of these plots. Three more sections E, G, and H had been opened to the east of the first four sections by about the year 1890.

Around the turn of the twentieth century, the members of the parish of St. Mary's Church began a slow decline as parishioners began moving to the suburbs of the time and joined new parishes in those locations. Along with that trend, burials in St. Mary's Cemetery also began to decline.

By the year 1920, the parish cemetery committee, presided by Mr. Fredrick Sitterding, saw that the parish, due to its declining membership, could no longer support the cemetery financially. Mr. Sitterding offered to buy and donate another 12 acres of land adjoining the cemetery to the south, if the Bishop, who had acquired the original grounds from the Benedictine order, would approve to convert the cemetery into a non-profit diocesan corporation serving the Catholics of all parishes. The offer was accepted and St. Mary's Cemetery became Holy Cross Cemetery in November, 1924.

The Bishop of Richmond became the President of the Board of Directors. The Vice President became the managing director. Perpetual care was offered as optional purchase, the proceeds of which, along with the proceeds from plot sales, were put into a perpetual care fund, the income on which was used for cemetery management and maintenance. The cemetery became financially self supporting and the house on the additional property was provided to the superintendant and his family.

In 1931, three years after her father, Fredrick Sitterding, had died, Miss Angee Sitterding had built and donated to the cemetery, the beautiful brick wall and iron gates which surround it. At the same time, the superintendants house was moved from its location where the chapel now stands to an area south of the wall across the street.

After the incorporation of St. Mary's to Holy Cross Cemetery, the number of burials began a constant increase from 18 per year in the 1920's to 39 in the 1960's.

To provide the continued pool of plots over the years, sections I, J, and K were opened in the additional 12 acre parcel. Monuments in the new section became less elaborate and stone copings around the plots were no longer used. By the decade of the 1970's the superintendent was placed on a retirement income and the vice-president took over management of the cemetery on a voluntary basis. Because the perpetual care fund had been invested nearly entirely in fixed income securities, the multiple inflation of the decades of the 1950's and 1960's caused the funds income to be insufficient to hire a replacement superintendent. When he died in 1982, the house was converted into two rental apartments for additional income. The investment policy was changed to produce more income and offset inflation so that the finances of the cemetery improved substantially.

In 1965, the cobble stone roads were converted to asphalt. In 1972, 137 remains were transferred from St. Joseph's or Bishops Cemetery, on Mechanicsville Pike, to the new section L, located on the south facing hillside in the original half of the Cemetery, when the Richmond Housing Authority bought the Bishop's Cemetery to build Whitcomb Court.

In 1988, to complete the plan of a chapel for the cemetery and provide storage space for grounds maintenance and burial equipment, donations of $55,000 were solicited. The Chapel building, which also has space for a records office and bathroom facilities, was built for $119,300 and dedicated in October, 1988.

When the chapel was completed and all the plots in Section K had been sold, section M, which adjoined to the northeast, was opened. To facilitate lawn maintenance, four grave plots were restricted to one standing monument and two plots to flat markers only. A beautiful statue of the Blessed Mother Mary and a brick walkway adorn section M.

In the year of 2004, a hurricane which brought 10 inches of rain caused a mud slide and gullies in one of the roads. This required installing a concrete drainage drop, an underground pipe drain and grading for approximately $36,000. In 2005, the Board of Directors sold the house, in decrepit condition, and an acre of ground south of the cemetery to a developer.

A memorial service and more lately mass, has been held each year since the founding of the cemetery, on the first Sunday of November, which is regularly attended by almost 125 people. Burials continue at a rate of 25 to 30 each year, along with 5 to 10 urn interments. A dedicated Board of Directors manages the finances, building, grounds, records and security of the Cemetery. All the while, continuing to improve the general appearance and aesthetics.