Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flowers Commonly used in Memorial Art and Their Meaning

When creating a headstone, one may wish to utilize symbols as a means of telling his or her loved one’s life story. Of course there are numerous fraternity symbols, team or company logos, hobby symbols, etc that are often found on headstones. However, did you know that the flowers often carved on headstones have meaning as well?

Whether the individual designing the headstone realizes it or not, each flower has a symbolic meaning and I am going to describe them below.

  • Wild Rose: In a naturalistic form this design symbolizes love. However, in the conventional form, it means Messianic Promise or Our Blessed Savior. In a heraldic form it means the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  • Cultivated Rose: This rose is often referred to as the American Beauty Rose and popularly symbolizes Everlasting Love. It may also be representative of persons born in the month of June.

  • Grape (True Vine): The grape vine represents the Vine of Life or Our Lord. It may also be used to symbolize the Christian Church as it refers back to St. John 15:5 (“I am the vine, ye are the branches”)

  • Ivy: Ivy is best known to symbolize Memory but may also be used to signify Friendship, Faithfulness and Immorality. If used in the wreath form it symbolizes Conviviality.

  • Flowering Dogwood: This flower is extremely popular on monuments here in Northwest Arkansas and is the symbol of Christianity, Divine Sacrifice, and the Triumph of Eternal Life. If used combination with the Cross or Crucifixion, it symbolizes Regeneration. The Dogwood may also be used to signify the states of North Carolina or Virginia.

  • Passion Flower: This is one of the many symbols used to portray the story of Our Lord’s Passion and Death.

  • Lily: Also known as the Easter Lily, this flower is symbolic of Our Lord’s Resurrection and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Under the title of Lilium Candidum or Madonna Lily, it is emblematic of the Annunciation, Purity, and Heavenly Bliss.

  • Calla Lily: Symbolically this flower means Majestic Beauty and Marriage.

  • Acanthus: This plant is sometimes associated with the rocky ground upon which most of the ancient Greek cemeteries were placed, hence the attributed symbolism, “Heavenly Gardens”

  • Flowering Laurel: The Laurel symbolizes Atonement, Glory, reward and Victory. In wreath form, it is particularly appropriate for persons who have attained distinction in the arts, literature, military service, or in the services of Christianity.

Of course these are just some of the flowers used in memorial art. While the flowers I mentioned above may be used in the course of symbolism, they are also popularly used simply because they are the flower a family’s loved one adored, or they simply like the way it looks on the monument. As in all memorial art, there is no “right or wrong” way to do things.
I hope you found this post to be informative and helpful!

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! I think you are right...there are more people who are interested than you think. I never really knew the difference between a headstone and a footstone until recently.


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