Located on the site of an early 18th-century Franciscan Indian mission in St. Augustine to the native Guale people, this Catholic cemetery dates back to St. Augustine's early history. Public access to the Tolomato Cemetery is limited, due to preservation concerns, to the third Saturday of each month, when guided tours are given from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Tolomato Cemetery was the final resting place for people from a wide variety of cultures - Spanish, Cuban, Greek, Minorcan, African, Irish and Haitian, just to name a few. It was closed to burials in 1884.
The Tolomato Cemetery served as the parish cemetery for what is now the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine for over 100 years. Though some 1,000 St. Augustinians are buried in the cemetery, there are only about 100 grave markers. What is known about who is buried there comes from the parish death records. The Cathedral parish and the Diocese of St. Augustine still own, maintain and protect the cemetery.
Some of the historically important people buried in the Tolomato cemetery are Bishop Agustin Verot, the first Bishop of St. Augustine, Governor Enrique White, who served during the Second Spanish Period, and General George Biassou of Haiti. Also buried here are the first Sisters of St. Joseph and Civil War soldiers from both sides of the conflict, including Freedmen who fought for the Union.
Father Felix Varela of Cuba, who as a renowned teacher at the Cathedral of Havana seminary was an outspoken defender of human rights, and who later published the first Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S., was buried at Tolomato in 1853. The distinctive small white building in the cemetery is his chapel, built in his honor.