Many, perhaps, most of the symbols found in our cemeteries are religious. The motif above displays three nails encircled by a Crown of Thorns. The Crown of Thorns depict the crown that Jesus Christ wore as He was mocked as a king which is described in Chapter 19, King James Version.
Verse 1, “Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.”
Verse 2, “And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe.”
Verse 3, “And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.”
The nails in the middle of the crown are associated with the Crucifixion of Christ. The scriptures are not explicit about the details of the crucifixion.
Chapter 19, King James Version
Verse 15, “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”
Verse 16, “Then delivered him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.”
Verse 17, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgo-tha.”
Verse 18, “Where they crucified him, and two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.”
Verse 19, “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
While some believe that Christ was crucified with four nails, one in each hand and one in each foot. Other Christians believe that He was nailed to the cross with three nails, one through each palm and one through both of His feet. This is called triclavianism which translates to “Three Keys”. Most likely the significance of three nails is also associated with the Trinity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. These two symbols together represent the Passion of Christ and His willingness to suffer and die. However, some Christians view the nail, the instrument of Christ’s death, as a symbol of the Devil.
The three nails as a symbol existed before Christ and is also associated with a solar god.