By Burton Fletcher
The Acanthus symbolizes Heavenly Gardens. Anchor is an
early Christian symbol for hope. Alpha and Omega is the
beginning and the end. The Angel is symbolic as the Agent of
God, often pointing heavenwards. The Ark is the symbol of the
Church, because in the Ark, all living creatures found refuge
The Beehive is a symbol for a community of those who
work together for the benefit of all. The Book is the Bible.
The Butterfly symbolizes the Resurrection and eternal life (as
the butterfly leaves the pupa and sours upward with a new
body). A Broken Column symbolizes death, mortality, and a life
The Candelabrum is the 5 wounds of Our Lord. The Circle
symbolizes eternity, and it is often incorporated into the
The Cross is a symbol of the Christian religion, Christ, and
His atoning death. The Crown is emblem of a Christian martyr
or royalty, while the Crown of Thorns symbolizes a mockery
crown and a symbol of humiliation and suffering.
Daisy is the Christ Child’s innocence. The Dove
expresses innocence and purity, and peace, signifying the Holy
Spirit and the presence of God.
Festoon is Memory.
Gates symbolize entry into heaven. A Grape is Our Lord
and His followers.
Hands clasped are a symbol of farewell—we shall meet again. A
Harp is music worship in Heaven. The Heart symbolizes love and
devotion. Holly is the thorny, prickly leaves of the holly
tree and regarded as a symbol of the Crown of Thorns, and
therefore recalls the passion of Christ. Honeysuckle is a
Greek ornament. A Horse epitomizes strength, courage, or the
swiftness of the passage of time. The Hourglass symbolizes
HIS symbolizes the first three letters (iota, beta,
sigma) of the Greek spelling of “Jesus.” I.N.R.I. means Jesus
of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Ivy symbolizes faithfulness,
immortality, friendship, and memory.
Jonquil means affection.
The Labyrinth symbolizes eternity. The Lamb symbolizes
Our Lord and innocence, and is frequently used on a child's
grave. The Lamp of Knowledge symbolizes truth and immortality.
Thus a covered lamp symbolizes the extinguishments of life. A
Laurel symbolizes reward, victory, or fame. The Lily, my
favorite, symbolizes Easter, purity, resurrection, and
immortality. The bulb decays in the ground, yet from it, new
life is released. This is symbolic of Easter. The Lily of the
Valley means humility.
The Lion symbolizes strength, courage, and the
Resurrection. The Obelisk is symbolic of eternal life and is
the Egyptian sun-worshipping symbol. The Olive Branch is for
peace, harmony, and healing.
Morning Glory symbolizes bonds of love. The Oak is
strength and virtue. The Olive is Peace.
A Palm means victory/triumph over death.
A Passion Flower is the crowing event in the life of Our Lord,
for Christ's passion, sacrifice, and redemption. The Peacock
is an early symbol of the Resurrection. The Pelican symbolizes
atonement. Phoenix, another favorite, since my college days as
a Brother in Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, is the mythical
bird, rising from its own ashes; it is immortal life. A Pine
is stateliness. A Pillow symbolizes the deathbed. A Poppy is
sleep or rest.
Quatrafoil is the four Gospels.
Reeds are strength and learning.
Rocks symbolize steadfastness of the Christian faith. A
Rope is an emblem of the betrayal and arrest, a symbol for the
passion of Christ. A Rose is love. The Scythe or sickle is the
passage of time.
A Shell symbolizes pilgrimage or Christianity. A Ship
is the Christian Church carrying the faithful through the
world. A Skeleton is symbolic of death and is frequently shown
with a scythe, since death cuts short life, as well as with an
hourglass, which is symbolic of passing of time. A Skull means
mortality. A Snake symbolizes Eternity. A Staff is religious
jurisdiction or kindness. A Star symbolizes nativity. The Star
of David is The Creation. A Sundial means the passage of time.
A Sword signifies justice or occupation.
A Thistle means austerity and independence. A Torch
placed Upright symbolizes life; Inverted torches symbolize
life quenched out. A Tree is life and regeneration. The
Triangle means Holy Trinity. A Tulip is symbolic of ardent
The Urn symbolizes death; the classical Grecian urn
contains human remains, and flaming symbolizes new life.
Wheat is the bread of life. A Willow means grief
and mourning. Wings symbolize a divine mission; Angels
and cherubim are shown with wings. Winged Sun Disc
means Divine Power. A Wreath is memory and eternal
X.P. are Greek symbols for Chi Rho and Christ, and are
shown with the “P” overlaying the “X.”
The Yew symbolizes mourning, due to its long
association with churchyards.
Sources: McNeel, The
Greatest Name in Stonecraft
Burton Fletcher, with over 20 years business experience, owns
ValdostaMemorials.com. He is a licensed memorialist in Georgia and Florida. He enjoys genealogy and
visiting and studying Southern monuments. Reach Burton at