St. Patrick’s and St. Mark’s Churches
From Verdmont Museum on Collector’s Hill, continuing along South Road in the McGall’s Hill area, the Portuguese influence is strong. The large, circular Roman Catholic church, St. Patrick’s (23 South Shore Rd., tel. 441/236-9866, stpats [at] logic [dot] bm), conducts special masses in Portuguese (7:30 a.m. Sundays). Gardens carefully planted with Easter lilies, vegetables, or brilliantly hued flower beds speak to the community’s agricultural legacy, and the names of so many neighborhood residents—Moniz, DeSilva, Cabral, Furtado—reflects the waves of Portuguese immigration to Bermuda over the past 150 years.
Azoreans were invited to the island in the mid-1800s to help spur a farming revival; within a couple of years, Bermuda was benefiting from the influx in laborers, as well as innovative farming methods and equipment. By the 1870s, annual exports of Bermuda onions (70,000 barrels and 350,000 crates), arrowroot, potatoes, and tomatoes to U.S. East Coast cities had revitalized the island’s economy and begun paving the way for Bermuda’s cultural face to change.
At the top of McGall’s Hill sits St. Mark’s Church, a quaint parish landmark built in 1847 whose spire can be seen down the valleys on both sides. Inside, its cedar altar and pulpit are good examples of Bermudian workmanship. The graveyard, draped with riotous bougainvillea at certain times of year, and filled with tombstones of seafaring, old-family islanders dating back a century and a half, is also worth a wander.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition