Wealthy, Influential Catholics Interred in Ornate Mausoleum

Times Staff Writer

He came to pay his last respects Thursday to Cardinal Timothy Manning, but before he did, Teolor (Sonny) Atangan walked up the stairway into the ornate and stately mausoleum chapel at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles.

Atangan gazed at the gated crypts on each side of the chapel, rooms of polished marble and chiseled stone that are the final resting places for some of the wealthiest and most influential members of the Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles.

In one crypt just to the left of the chapel altar are entombed Manning’s five predecessors dating back to the 1800s. McIntyre. Cantwell. Conaty. Amat. Mora.


Had Manning chosen, he too could have made this room his final resting place. But he wanted to be laid to rest in another section of the cemetery, in a simple grave alongside his fellow priests.

“If you’re rich, you get a place like this,” said Atangan, a 39-year-old Los Angeles Catholic, who was taking his two sisters visiting from the Philippines on a quick tour of the mausoleum, which overlooks the oldest cemetery in the Los Angeles archdiocese.

Looking at one crypt, Atangan said: “They must feel they weren’t able to complete everything in life as a person . . . and in their last moments before death they wanted people to like them.”

In a grotto of polished red marble located across the chapel from the bishops are Edward and Carrie Estelle Doheny. He was the mighty oil tycoon who died in 1935 and whose family has a street and a state beach named in its honor. She was a philanthropist and collector of rare books--including a Gutenberg Bible--and was named a papal countess for her contributions to the church before her death in 1958.

Pink Carnations

Thursday, freshly picked pink carnations decorated the front of their tombs.

Near the Dohenys is the final resting place of Father William Ward, who died in 1987.

“William Ward, he was her executor and was very powerful in that regard,” said Jerry Milanez, a Los Angeles Catholic who also decided to make a quick tour of the mausoleum before attending Manning’s burial. “He was her confidant and adviser. They contributed millions and millions to the church.”

Adjacent to the bishops’ crypts is one reserved for Los Angeles oilman Daniel Murphy and his heirs. Entombed here is his adopted daughter, Bernardine, who died in 1968.

Also a Papal Countess

Like Carrie Estelle Doheny, Murphy’s daughter was made a papal countess in her lifetime by the Pope and contributed heavily to Catholic churches, schools and hospitals. Because of her generosity, the archdiocese renamed St. John Vianney High School in Los Angeles Daniel Murphy High School.

Hollywood film legends, brothers John and Lionel Barrymore, also are entombed near the chapel.

Chiseled into the white marble of John Barrymore’s vault are words from Hamlet: “Good Night Sweet Prince.” Above them is the year “1942.”

“He was too vain to put the year he was born,” said Milanez, who then glanced up at Lionel Barrymore’s vault, which has no dates on it.

“They were actors,” Milanez said. “You know how actors are.”