Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eternal Flame...the Forever Symbol







Eternal Flame at top of Receiving Vault, Dunmore Cemetery

The eternal flame, a flame that burns day and night for an indefinite period, is found in many cultures, both ancient and current.   It is also known as a sanctuary lamp.   There are early Greek references to Persian “Great Fires,” and to an eternal flame attended to constantly by Zoroastrian priests.  Moses the Jewish prophet oversaw the construction of the first menorah in the tabernacle in the Jerusalem temple.  Later, when the Maccabees rebelled about 167 BC against the empire established by Alexander the Great, they reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem and rekindled the menorah’s eternal flame.  They only had enough oil for it to burn for one day, and it would take eight days to get more oil.  And yet, miraculously, the menorah’s flame kept burning until the new oil arrived.  This story is celebrated during Hanukkah.  The flame also symbolizes God’s eternal presence, which is never extinguished.
 
Christians also have an eternal flame, usually on the altar, for the practical purpose of worship at any time, but also for the symbolism of the light of Christ shining always in the dark.  The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has an eternal flame burning to honor the sacrifice of soldiers killed in the line of duty, and President John F. Kennedy’s grave features an eternal flame commemorating him, the first time this honor was given to one person.  (Information from Wikipedia.com)
 
Eternal flame symbols are common on graves in the 19th century, but continue even today, perhaps illustrating that the ones left behind will never forget their loved one. 







 (L) Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA
(R) Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA





(L) Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA
(R) Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA






(L) Catterson Cemetery, Sterling, PA
(R) New Britain Baptist Cemetery, New Britain, PA





(L) St. Michael's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Sellersville, PA
(R) St. Peter's Union Cemetery, Hilltown, PA



(L) St. John's Lutheran Cemetery, Quakertown, PA
(R) St. Andrew's UCC Cemetery, Perkasie, PA




(L) Deep Run Mennonite East, Bedminster, PA



 (R) Indian Orchard Cemetery, Indian Orchard, PA





(L) New Britain Baptist Cemetery, New Britain, PA




(R) Quakertown Union Cemetery, Quakertown, PA




(L) Quakertown Union Cemetery, Quakertown, PA




 (R) St. John's Lutheran Cemetery, Quakertown, PA



(L) Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA


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