Memorial for a Man of the Church

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

REV. WM. P. KIRBY

BORN IN LISTOWEL

APRIL 15, 1860.

ORDAINED MARCH 17, 1883.

DIED FEB. 2, 1904.

R. I. P.

The marker for the Rev. Kirby in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California, is a Celtic cross.  The two main symbols on the staff of the cross are the chalice and the lamb.

The chalice is a symbol of the Holy sacraments and is flanked by grapes and wheat—symbols of the Eucharist—the blood and body of Jesus Christ.  This also speaks to the profession of the deceased because the chalice is a “tool of his trade” so to speak.

There are many gravestone symbols that seem to be ubiquitous—the lamb is one of them. Walk into nearly any American graveyard and you will find tiny little lambs marking the graves of mostly children. The lamb symbols come in many sizes and positions—often sleeping. The lamb is the symbol of the Lord, the Good Shepherd. It also represents innocence, likely the reason why this motif usually adorns the tombstones of infants and young children. Most often the lamb is lying down, often asleep and sometimes with a cross behind the lamb.

The letters IHS are what is referred to as a “Christogram.”  The three letters represent Jesus Christ as they are the first three letters of His name in Greek.  But, through the years various other meaning have been assigned to the letters:

in hoc salus: there is safety in this

in hoc signo: by this sign

Jesus hominum salvtor: Jesus, Savior of Mankind

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