Monday, July 24, 2006

Cemetery Symbolism--Calla Lilly

Victorian cemetery art incorporated elaborate symbolism to convey the hopes and sorrows of those left behind.

Calla Lilly: symbolizing majestic beauty and marriage.


February 14, 1806
June 4, 1880
Aged 74 Yrs., 3 Mos.
& 21 Days.
Asleep in Jesus

Note the interesting pyramid designs around the edge of the stone and strange, cloth-like weathering of the surface.

I feel the voice of daughters in this inscription. A longing for their mother. And there she is, for all to see. Embodied in the flower watching over him.

(St. Peter's United Church of Christ, West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania)


Bernita said...

An unusual stone.
At least to me.
Reminds me "In the beauty of the lilies, he was born across the sea..."

Flood said...

Yes, seems unusual to me as well. The Lilly carving is so detailed, it's hard to believe this is the original stone. So beautiful, I wish they did stuff like this today. The craftsmanship!

Bev said...

This is a great marker! (Is it part of your family line?) As someone who has spent a lot of time in cemeteries (ok, family history researches DO those kind of things!), I can say this is one of the nicest monuments I have seen. Too bad nowdays its all about can the cemetery mow right over the stones -- sacralege to those of us who won't even knowingly walk over a grave. In those days they took some care in creating these monuments that served as the last marker on this earth of the we're just too busy and our society reflects that. (OK, now I'm getting off my soap box!!) I love your picture!!!!

Jim said...

I've always found gravestones fascinating. There is an endless supply of strange and interesting things to be found in a cemetary.

Jay said...

It's bizarre to me how much symbolism was placed in all flowers. Not so long ago, lovers traded secret messages using only flowers. I think we're too lazy for that kind of thing now.

mermaid said...

A Mother really does hold the family tree together. Loved the symbolism of her watching over him.

anna said...

This is a wonderful gravestone.
Like Bev I spend a lot of time in
cemeteries. They are great places for inspirations for stories. I can imagine the family
gathering around this one tending
to the grave, bringing calla lillies, like the one carved in the stone. thanks for posting this Jason.

Anonymous said...

Bernita, that is a timeless line. Thanks for sharing!

Flood, I feel the same way. A memorial should be so much more than the bare facts. It should try to reflect the best in a person.

Bev, I couldn't agree with you more! I haven't done much in last few weeks, but my random visits to cemeteries are a regular feature on this blog. A number of them are in my index to the right. I feel a strange kind of peace and connectedness walking among these stones.

Jim, I love stopping in at isolated little cemeteries. So many whispers from the past. I can listen and listen and still be drawn for more.

Jay, I miss some of that lost subtlety and artistry.

Mermaid, it didn't strike me until I wrote the post. In my heart, I do believe she is there in that flower.

Anna, you know what is wonderful and fascinating? So many of the folks who have stayed with me after the last contest feel a resonance with this post. I am honored to be a gathering place for kindred spirits.

Kelly Parra said...

Yes, that weathering is intriguing. Very nice, Jason. And I didn't know that about the calla lily. cool. =D

beadinggalinMS said...

A gorgeous stone. First time I have seen a lily on a stone. You always have the most fascinating stones.

Oh yeah luved your pics of you in your father's hat you had below.

Also 3rd part of The Field! You got me hooked again and can not wait for the rest.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, many times those softer stones just fade away, but other times they take on such interesting appearances.

Beady, I'm due for another cemetery trip. I'm running out! Thanks for the compliment on the Bob Hope hat. :)

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

It's interesting that the white calla lily is used often in both funerals and weddings.

Anonymous said...

Dana, I wonder if that is the origin of it's meaning in funerals. The purpose might be to evoke memories of the person's wedding.