Sword-bearing Angels

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

St. Michael is featured in many cemetery sculptures. Only the Archangel Michael is clothed in armor.  The sword he carries represents a cross but also a weapon in his war against the devil’s warriors.

Archangel Michael is a Christian soldier fighting Satan’s hordes.   Archangel Michael is often represented standing on a worm or a dragon.  In dramatic examples, St. Michael is depicted plunging his sword into Satan’s mouth as he stands on the vanquished enemy.  Satan, of course, is depicted as a dragon. The Archangel Michael is also considered the guardian of souls.

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

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