Soul-bearing Angels

c. 1860, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Elisabeth L. Roark wrote an article about angels titled, “Embodying Immortality: Angels in America’s Rural Garden Cemeteries, 1850—1900”, pages 56 – 111, 2007 edition of Markers, XXIV, in which she wrote Catholics had embraced the concept of angels but Protestants were slow to. That changed in the second half of the 19th Century. She explains that there was an “invasion” of angels in rural garden cemeteries, which were for the most part Protestant graveyards. Roark explains in the article that Protestants accepted the concept of angels because they not only expressed a message of consolation but were also utilitarian—these angels performed tasks.

c. 1850, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

In this category of angels, the angels are depicted carrying the soul to Heaven. In most of the examples the author found, the angels were carved in bas-relief because of the complexity of carving them in the round.

c. 1860, Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio

All four examples are from the second half of the 19th Century—two from Green-Wood Cemetery at Brooklyn, New York, and two from Spring Grove Cemetery at Cincinnati, Ohio. In all but one case, the angels are bearing children’s souls to Heaven.

c. 1865-1895, Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio

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