Winged Cherubs

Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts

JOHN ADAMS BLANCHARD

BORN IN BOSTON APRIL 6, 1842

DIED IN FLORENCE ITALY MARCH 25, 1885

GEORGE DOYLE, HIS SON

DIED APRIL 12, 1875 [illegible] 16 MONTHS

The white marble sarcophagus tomb in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery at Cambridge, Massachusetts was designed to look like a coffin.  Though this tomb is designed to appear like a coffin it is empty—the deceased is buried beneath the marker.  The word, sarcophagus, is derived from two ancient Greek words, sarx, which meant flesh and phagein meaning to eat.  The two words together, sarkophagus, meant flesh eating.  The term came from the limestone used by the ancient Greeks to bury the dead which was thought to decompose the flesh of the deceased.

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Four winged cherubs, two on each side, embellish the footed tomb.  The winged cherub was a symbol that became popular in the 18th Century.  Winged cherubs replaced the stark and morbid flying death’s heads from our Puritan forefathers.  The cherubs have a childlike countenance of innocence.  The iconography represents the flight of the soul from the body upward to Heaven and the hope of the resurrection.

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