September 8, 2006
Alpha (A) and Omega (Ω) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The Christian symbol juxtaposing the two letters is derived from the book of Revelation: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13). You will sometimes see it used with the Chi Rho (PX) symbol.
Photo: Mount Olivet Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Colorado
September 5, 2006
The monogram that looks like a combination of a P and an X is actually the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ – Chi (X) and Rho (P). The symbol was used by early Christians and is attributed to the Roman Emporer Contstantine, who used it as a military symbol. You will often see it on banners, called labarum, in ecclesiastical processions. The Chi Rho symbol is also the origin of using the abbreviation Xmas for Christmas.
Photo: from the Lilly family gravestone, Mount Olivet Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Colorado
September 4, 2006
This double-headed eagle symbol is for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. The number 32 inside the triangle represents the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite. The Latin motto, “Spes mea in Deo est,” means “My hope is in God.”
For more details see the Scottish Rite Freemasonry FAQ
Photo: Brunton family plot, Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado
September 1, 2006
Here’s a nice example of the Christian symbol of a cross inside a crown. In cemetery symbolism this is thought to represent suffering (the cross) followed by eternal reward (the crown).
The Knights Templar version of this symbol is sometimes set within a Maltese cross. Or you will find it near other Masonic symbols. For more information on the Knights Templar version and its connection to Freemasonry click on the Knights Templar category over on the right side.
Photo: from the headstone of John R. Champion (1856-1917) and Jane L. Champion (1859-1952), Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado
September 1, 2006
Woodmen of the World (WOW) is a fraternal organization founded by Joseph Cullen Root in 1890 in Omaha, Nebraska. Root had earlier founded another fraternal organization known as Modern Woodmen of America (MWA). The organization offers insurance to its members and helps those in need.
In cemeteries you will sometimes see gravestones with “Here Lies a Woodman of the World” engraved on them. Usually these will be accompanied by a symbol like the example below. Logs, along with axes and other woodworking tools, are common motifs. Sometimes the grave markers themselves will be in the shape of logs or tree stumps. These are called “treestones.” The symbol below includes the Latin Woodmen phrase “Dum Tacet Clamat,” which means “Though Silent He Speaks.”
Photo: from the headstone of James Stewart (1856-1908), Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado
August 29, 2006
The Daughters of Rebekah (DR) are a female auxiliary of the International Order of Odd Fellows. The Rebekah Degree was first established in 1851 and there are separate Rebekah lodges today. This example shows the Odd Fellows three chain links symbol intertwined with the letter “R,” and a dove, representing peace, inside the letter “D.” The circular part of the “D” will often be depicted as a crescent moon.
Photo: Gravemarker of Jennie Outcalt (1884-1960), Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado
August 27, 2006
The angels category here is one of the most popular, so I thought I would add another winged messenger to the website. This one is from Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.