Angels Who Decorate and Watch Over the Grave

Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

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 categorized the eight most commonly found types of graveyard angels—grouped the task they performed: soul-bearing; praying; decorating and guarding; pointing; recording; trumpeting; sword-bearing (archangel Michael); and child angels.

Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York

Angels are mentioned over 270 times in the Bible but of the eight categories of angels that Roark describes in her article, this is the only type with this task that is not specifically defined in the Bible. Roark notes that decorating graves with flowers originates with the ancient Greeks, this type of symbolism, however, is something newly found in graveyards of the 19th Century. After the Civil War, it became popular to decorate graves lavishly with flowers. Roark writes, “Like their live counterparts, the angels’ sculpted flowers suggest the parallels drawn at this time between the cyclical nature of plant life and human birth, death, and resurrection.”

Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC

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