January 31, 2015

Cemetery Symbolism

A cemetery holds stories. Stories of people who once lived in your community. A cemetery, especially to me, and other taphophiles alike, is place to go to learn the history, and hear these stories. Not a scary, creepy place but a place to reflect, and learn. One way to learn the stories of the people buried there is by headstone symbols. They give a glimpse who the person was, more so than simple reading the headstone. In this post, I have included some of these symbols and their meanings. This isn't by any means a comprehensive list. I have simple included some of the most common symbols.

A symbol of resurrection, innocence and peace. A dove ascending represents the departed's soul going to heaven. A dove holding an olive branch symbolizes the departed soul has found peace in heaven. A dead dove can mean a life cut short.

It represents safety, hope, and steadfastness. It also means the anchoring influence of Christ. It can also be for the grave of a seaman, or as a symbol of Saint Nicholas, who was the patron saint of seamen. A broken chain on the anchors, means the ending of life.Picture 

Photo Found: http://adventures-of-the-blackgang.tumblr.com/page/796

Broken Column
A broken column represents a life that was cut short.

Photo Found: 

Covered Urn
The draped urn, can mean several things. The urn represents a funerary urn, used to hold the deceased ashes. The draping, can symbolize the guarding of the ashes, or that the departed's soul has left the body to go to heaven. The drape can also signify the shroud between life and death.

Photo Found: http://gravediscoveries.blogspot.com/

A family tree. The broken branches represent the members of the family. A trunk, broken branches, represent the shortness, ending of life. 

PhotoFound: http://www.galenfrysinger.com/indiana_grave_stones.htm

Fleur de lis
Symbolizes purity and chastity, attributed to the Virgin Mary.It can also represent the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Photo Found: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zeevveez/3729717784/

This symbol also can represent many different things. The book can make reference to the bible, the book of life. It may also on a headstone for a scholar, lover of books, or learning, a publisher, or writer. Also a book can represent the Evangelists. A closed book can represent a life cut short, the book of life, closed.

Photo Found: http://texasescapes.com/EastTexasTowns/Old-Waverly-Texas.htm

3 Chain Links with the Letters F.L.T.
This symbol is one for a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.). It is a fraternal organization that strives to "improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice". The letters: F.L.T. stand for, Friendship, Love, and Truth.

Read more about the I.O.O.F. here: 

The sovereign grand lodge of Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Photo Found: 

The Letters I.H.S.
It stands for the first three letters of the Greek spelling of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Iesus Hominum Salvator – Jesus the Savior of men

Photo Found: https://cemeterysymbolism.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/ihs/

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