Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, February 26, 2012

March Comes in Like a Lion and Goes Out Like a Lamb

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA
Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA


This saying for the weather in March comes from the position of the constellations Leo (the Lion) and Aries (Ram or Lamb, both are a type of sheep, just differing in age) during this time of year in North America.  In the beginning of March, the constellation Leo is very close to the Earth.   At the end of the month, the Sun is in the constellation of Aries.  March is also a month of transition in terms of weather for much of North America, since the cold weather continues from winter into the beginning of March and then after the vernal equinox on March 21st (Hail, Spring!), the weather becomes milder (we hope!) as the month ends and becomes April. 

The symbol of the lamb was a popular and powerful symbol for the death of a child in the 19th century.  I’ve already discussed the 20% death rate for children born in the early 1800’s, and children still perished young in the late 1800’s and even into the first half of the 20th century, though not at such a high percentage rate.  

The lamb has several meanings, the first being the Lamb of God, an appellation for Jesus, as John the Baptist calls him in John 1:29:  “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  When the lamb is seen with the cross on a pole behind him, that is the traditional Christian symbol of Jesus as the Lamb of God.  I suspect there is some connection there with Jesus sacrificed for the sins of Christians, and lambs being sacrificed as offerings to God.  

Lambs also were very valuable to ancient peoples, as they provided milk, meat and wool.  To give someone a gift of a lamb was considered a great gift indeed.  Lambs are obedient and docile, and they became a metaphor for the “flock” or congregation of Christians following God’s word.  Usage of a lamb on a tombstone of a child signified the meek, docile child being taken into the arms of God and into the afterlife.

Lions, on the other hand, were anything but docile, meek and obedient.  They were revered for their power, their boldness, and their fierceness.  In the Book of Genesis, the patriarch Jacob refers to his son Judah as a “young lion” in his blessing on the boy; thus, the symbol of the Lion represents the Hebrew Tribe of Judah.  In Christian traditions, this symbol stands for Jesus himself.  (an interesting dichotomy----Jesus is a meek lamb and a fierce lion, both).  I collect brass Jewish Sabbath candles, and they usually feature two lions of Judea on them, symbolizing the carved lions who guarded the gates of the holy city of Jerusalem.

Lions have never lost this association with regal greatness.  In Laurel Hill Cemetery, one of its most iconic grave markers is a life-size lion atop the grave of Robert Patterson (1792-1881), an Irishman who immigrated to the United States in 1799.  He entered into banking in Philadelphia as a young man, and volunteered to serve his new country in the War of 1812, where he rose to colonel.  He also served well in the Mexican-American War, after which, he returned to Philadelphia, acquired 30 cotton mills and became very wealthy.  When the Civil War began, Patterson was commissioned a major-general, but he failed to defeat a small Confederate force at the First Battle of Bull Run, said to have led to the Union’s complete defeat there.  He was honorably discharged in July of 1861.  Both his two sons and son-in-law were Union generals in the Civil War, and his sons are buried next to him in Laurel Hill Cemetery.   

The lion on Patterson’s grave seems to stand for his success in the mercantile business, and his important influence in Philadelphia politics.  I love this sculpture because the lion has its mouth slightly open, looking as if he is in motion, in the middle of contemplating a movement, perhaps towards prey.  It is one of my favorite monument markers.



Albright Bennett Cemetery, Newfoundland, PA

Aldenville Baptist Cemetery, Aldenville, PA

Aldenville Baptist Cemetery, Aldenville, PA

Belfast Union Cemetery, Belfast, PA

Belfast Union Cemetery, Belfast, PA

Beth Israel Cemetery, Honesdale, PA

Bethel Methodist Cemetery, Bedford Valley, PA

Bolkcom Cemetery, Rileyville, PA

Bolkcom Cemetery, Rileyville, PA

Bristol Cemetery, Bristol, PA

Carversville Cemetery, Carversville, PA

Catterson Cemetery, Sterling, PA

Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA

Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA

Chase Cemetery, Fleetville, PA

Cold Spring Presbyterian Cemetery, Cold Spring, NJ

Cold Spring Presbyterian Cemetery, Cold Spring, NJ
Daleville Cemetery, Daleville, PA

Deep Run Mennonite East, Bedminster, PA

Deep Run Mennonite West, Bedminster, PA

Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Doylestown Presbyterian Cemetery, Doylestown, PA

Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Durham Cemetery, Durham, PA

Durham Cemetery, Durham, PA

Durham Cemetery, Durham, PA

Durham Cemetery, Durham, PA

East Bangor Cemetery, E. Bangor, PA

East Bangor Cemetery, E. Bangor, PA

Hole in the ear...happens frequently, not sure why?, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Equinunk Cemetery, Equinunk, PA

Very Large Lamb on Cross, and the small white ball in center is a toy stuffed lamb, Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Evergreen Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA

Fairview Cemetery, Lake Winola, PA

Falls Cemetery, Falls, PA

Forest Grove Presbyterian Cemetery, Forest Grove, PA

Lamb with Lily of Valley carved above name, Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA
Franconia Mennonite Meeting Cemetery, Franconia, PA

Franconia Mennonite Meeting, Franconia, PA

Franconia Mennonite Meeting, Franconia, PA

Lamb with Maybe Laurel Leaves, Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA



Grace UCC Cemetery, Tannersville, PA

Zinc Tombstone, Lamb with Cross and Banner (Jesus), Salem Cemetery, Hamlin, PA

Hatboro Cemetery, Hatboro, PA

Hays Cemetery, Easton, PA

Hays Cemetery, Easton, PA

Hays Cemetery, Easton, PA

Hellertown Cemetery, Hellertown, PA

Hellertown Cemetery, Hellertown, PA

Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA

Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA

Hickory Grove Cemetery, Waverly, PA

Holy Ghost Greek Catholic Cemetery, Jessup, PA

Indian Creek Christ Reformed Cemetery, Indian Valley, PA


"A Little Bud of Love to Bloom with God Above," Indian Orchard Cemetery, Honesdale, PA

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