The Rose

Flowers in a cemetery are a common sight, and they are also a common engraving on gravestones, in particular, the rose.

Milton evergreen_Rose

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St Joseph_Acton_rose

The rose represents love and purity and the brevity of life on earth.
Heart Rose


Milton evergreen_Book Cross Rose

Milton evergreen_Bible Rose

Life like a blooming flower is never meant to be permanent. The development stage of a rose indicates how old the deceased was at time of death. A bud is usually a child 12 or under; a partial bloom represents a teenager; and if it is in full bloom, the deceased died in the prime of life.

Milton Evergreen_branch


roses Cross Rose Cross5

Another symbol of the death of a young person is a broken rosebud. It symbolizes that life was cut short.

Milton Evergreen_broken Flower Rose broken

A strong bond between two people (e.g., mother and child who died at the same time) is represented by two rosebuds joined.

Several rosebuds on the same branch signifies secrecy.

A rose and a poppy signify eternal sleep.

In death, the colour of the rose is significant although this is not something present in a cemetery.  A red rose represents martyrdom a Tudor rose is beauty, and a white rose symbolizes purity.

A wreath of roses can represent beauty or that the deceased was innocent and sinless.

flower wreath

The following verse is popular in funeral prayer cards.

The Rose
A rose once grew where all could see,
Sheltered beside a garden wall.
And, as the days passed swiftly by,
It spread its branches, straight and tall.

One day, a beam of light shone through
A crevice that had opened wide –
The rose bent gently toward its warmth
Then passed beyond to the other side.

Now you who deeply feel its love,
Be comforted – the rose blooms there –
Its beauty even greater now,
Nurtured by God’s own loving care.

Milton evergreen_wall2    Milton Evergreen_wall

Milton Evergreen_on wall

Burial Hill

Burial Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Burial Hill dates back to colonial times and is the oldest cemetery in Plymouth. Before it became a cemetery, it was the site of the Pilgrims’ watchtower, the first fort commanding the harbor entrance with cannon, a meeting house, and a place of worship. It sits high on a hill overlooking Plymouth Harbor and hosts gravestones dating back to the 1680’s.

Those buried here include several Mayflower passengers, early settlers of the colony known as Pilgrims, heroes of the Revolution, soldiers of other wars, and the men who went “down to the sea in ships” braving dangers in the days of Plymouth’s maritime glory.

The entrance to the graveyard is via stone steps adjacent to First Church. The site is a quiet spot in the shadow of century old trees. Small knolls and valleys are covered in old stones of every shape and size with art spanning three centuries. Some of the oldest art forms of Memento Mori are visible. Olde English spelling is also evident.

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MA_Plymouth_Burial hill_illegible

Ah, Art thou gone
Thy short journey o’er
Oh lovely child shall we not see thee more
Thy soul has gone to everlasting rest
To dwell with Christ and be wherever blest
We’ll not reprine nor wish thee back again
To this dark world of trouble and of pain
Nor will we murmur at the hand divine
That took our daughter
Lord for she was thine. – 1837


Strangers and friends when you gaze on my urn
Remember death will call you in your turn
Therefore prepare to meet your God on high
When you ride glorious through the upper sky. – 1807

Missionary Rev. John Ross

This gravestone is located in the Newington Cemetery, Edinburgh, Scotland.

John Ross belonged to the United Presbyterian Church which was famous for its missions. As soon as he was ordained as a minister in 1872 he married M. A. Stewart and they departed for China. His wife died the following year giving birth to their first child, a son named Drummond. In 1876, he married Catherine, a sister of one of his fellow missionaries. He lived in China for 40 years as a missionary in Manchuria and Korea. His study of linguistics gave him an understanding of 11 languages. He began translating the New Testament into Korean, a project that took 10 years to complete, and which led to the spread of Christianity in Korea. Throughout his lifetime he wrote several books on the subject of missionary work in Manchuria. He returned to Edinburgh, Scotland in 1910 due to ill health.

Edinburgh_Cameron Toll_Ross

The Scottish Bible Society designed this gravestone and arranged for it to be made in Korea then shipped to Scotland. It is engraved in both English and Korean.


Loving Memory
Rev. John Ross D. D.
For over forty years missionary
Of the U. F. Church in Manchuria,
Died in Edinburgh 7th August 1915,
Aged 74 years.
Also his children
Hugh, Findlay, Jackie,
And Cathie Jane,
Who died in infancy,
Buried in Newchwang, N. China.
Findlay M. Ross M. C.
His youngest son,
Lieut. 9th Batt. The Royal Scots,
Killed in action in France 1st. Aug 1918,
Aged 25 years, and buried at
British Cemetery, Raperie, Nr. Soissons.
Also his wife
Isabella Strapp McFadyen
Who died in Glasgow
19th December 1930

A dedication stone beneath the gravestone

The Korean Church
Thank God for
John Ross
Who Translated The New Testament Into Korean
Between 1877 -1887
And Gave Them The Word Of Life


Anchored in Death

When we think of an anchor we think of the sea and sailors, and this symbol signifying hope and steadfastness is often found on the graves of sailors.

He is anchored home.

On Christian graves, the anchor represents Christ and also St. Clement who was bound to an anchor and dropped into the sea. Early Christians used the anchor as a disguised cross and marker to guide one another to secret worship places. The symbol of an anchor wrapped in vines represents a firm Christian faith.

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Milton evergreen

Milton Anchor

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Anchor rope

Anchor chain

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Anchors may also be found on the graves of Masons as they are a Masonic symbol for hope.

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An anchor with a broken chain is symbolic of the cessation of life.

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A woman holding an anchor represents hope.
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Woman anchor

A cross with an anchor is an Early Christian symbol referring to Christ as “hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sincere and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19).

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Milton evergreen (2)

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When the top part of an anchor is in the shape of a cross, it symbolizes Christ as the sure hope for our lives – something strong and secure amid the stormy seas of life.

cross shape

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