Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Baudin was a French medical doctor, a politician and a member of the National Assembly from 1849. While opposing the coup of Louis Bonaparte in Paris, Baudin attempted to motivate the workers to join the barricade by climbing atop it and was shot and killed in 1851. He was hailed as a martyr to the Republican cause.
Montmartre cemetery in Paris was the original burial site; his remains were later transferred to the Pantheon of Paris on 4 August 1889. The sculpture created by Aimé Millet in 1872 shows the bullet wound above his right eye.
An olive branch symbolizing peace rests between the tomb and a tablet on which his hand rests. The tablet is marked La Loi translated as The Law. A headstone attached to the tomb is inscribed; In memory of Alphonse Baudin representative of the people who died defending the law on December 3, 1851. Erected by his fellow citizens 1872.
At the head of the tomb is a Masonic hexagram supporting a wreath.
The sculptured figure is so realistic that I find something newly interesting in each of these images. Light leaving the body and death taking over are suggested by shadows in the image below. It also speaks volumes through body language with head drooped to the side, feet apart, fingers resting on the ideals he fought for.
The representation of Jesus, acknowledged by Christians as the Son of God, is commonly seen within cemeteries in the form of free standing statues or symbols on gravestones. The symbol of a crucified Jesus brings focus to our sins and his desire to save us; whereas the images of a resurrected Jesus with outstretched arms beckons and welcomes us to share in eternal life.
The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from sin.
Safe in the arms of Jesus.
An heir of God through Christ.
With Christ which is far better.
Christ our life.
Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring him.
Sweet bitter sleep our Father takes Till in Christ Jesus he awakes Then will his happy soul rejoice To hear his blessed Saviour’s voice. 1882
Friends and physicians could not save My mortal body from the grave Nor can the grave retain it here When Christ my saviour shall appear.
Jesus the very thought of thee.
My hope is in Christ.
Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep From which none ever wake to weep.
Be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh. 1888
Following the two World Wars, discussion and agreement by Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom (member countries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) on the burial of the dead created a standardized format encompassing burial sites, layout and size of the gravestones, and the legend on headstones.
Commonwealth countries built burial sites close to combat zones to preserve the link with the battlefield, whereas the United States and France created huge regional cemeteries intended to make a significant impression on people’s minds.
The graves were arranged in straight rows and designed to be perpetual and permanent. The material used in the headstones varied due to the requirement of a weather resistant substance or occurrence of earthquakes.
The standard used ensured that every grave was marked with a headstone, originally 76 centimetres (30”) tall, 38 cm (15”) wide, and 7.6cm (3.0”) thick, with upper case lettering designed by MacDonald Gill.
Each stone contained the national emblem or regimental badge, rank, name, unit, date of death and age of each casualty. In the case of burials of Victoria Cross or George Cross recipients, the regimental badge was supplemented by the Victoria Cross or George Cross emblem.
An appropriate religious symbol was included; most often a cross denoting Christianity, and sometimes a personal dedication chosen by relatives.
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. J. F. Kennedy
Far away in a distant land, Suddenly struck by death’s strong hand A loving son, strong and brave, Lies buried in a soldier’s grave.
No one knows the silent heartache, Only those can tell Who have lost their loved ones Without saying one farewell. We pictured him safely returning, We longed to clasp his hand, But God has postponed the meeting, Till we meet in a better land.
No one knows the silent heartache,
only those that have lost can tell
Of the grief that’s borne in silence
For the one we loved so well.
And when he gets to Heaven, To Saint Peter he will tell: ‘Just another soldier reporting, Sir. I’ve served my time in Hell.’ Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
Do not ask us if we miss him, There is such a vacant place; Can we e’er forget that footstep, And that dear familiar face.
No loved one stood beside him to bid a last farewell, No word of comfort could he leave to those he loved so well. We little thought his time so short in this world to remain, Nor that from when his home he went he would never return again.
He marched away so bravely, His young head proudly held; His footsteps never faltered, His courage never failed, There on the field of battle, He calmly took his place, He fought for King and Country, And the honour of his race.
…And decades later, the men and women who served are still remembered and accorded the same burial.
Vaults were created to prevent grave robbers from gaining access to freshly buried bodies, and were originally made of wood. Coffins, the universal symbol of death and mortality, are most often placed underground with a gravestone as a marker. Nowadays, the vault is manufactured in metal and is inserted into the ground to prevent the earth and coffin from collapsing. Collapse of the coffin causes the ground to sink and makes maintenance of the cemetery grounds difficult.
Man that is born of a woman is of few days
A sarcophagus is an elaborate coffin which can be created in any medium; wood, stone or metal. It is often only large enough to house one body, often someone of importance, and contains no window or door. It can also be considered a monument as it has a carving or inscription.
Ye mourning friends as you pass by
This monument survey
Learn ‘ere your solemn hour draws nigh
To choose that better way. 1813
A crypt is an underground stone chamber beneath a church, or in the wall of a religious building. Following entombment, the crypt is sealed, and a granite or marble front is attached.
Bath Abbey, England
Bath Abbey, England
In the silent tomb we leave them Till the resurrection morn When our Saviour will receive them And restore their lovely form
A tomb is very similar to a sepulcher in that it is typically underground. It can vary greatly in size and often holds the containers of multiple bodies. A sepulcher is a small room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead person is laid or buried. This term is also used to describe a structure with recesses in the wall to receive ashes of the dead.
Greyfriar’s Cemetery, Edinburgh, Scotland
Lasswade Cemetery, Lasswade, Scotland
Here in the silent tomb beneath this miry sod
Lies one who bore the Cross and trusted in his God;
Farewell, dear wife and friends, and my dear little son,
My work is finished and the prize is won. 1827
An above ground, large, free-standing structure is known as a mausoleum. It may be the resting place of an individual or a family group. It is often ornate with a small stained glass or open metalwork window. It stands as a monument and the more elaborate structures may have an interior chapel.
Faith Mortal! Seize the transient hour Improve each moment as it flies Life’s a short summer, Man a flower Dies Alas! How soon he dies. – 1831
A cairn or tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave.
The busy world is hushed The fever of life over and our work done.
An ossuary is a container or room into which the bones of multiple dead people are placed. The catacombs are a renowned example.
Thy peaceful days shall keep my bones Till that sweet day I walk from my long sleep and leave My bed of clay. Sweet truth to me I shall rise and with these eyes My Saviour see.
This post is in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme which took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. Fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire, it was the largest battle of the First World War. More than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
The Battle of Verdun, conducted on a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometers, became known as The Hell of Verdun. Approximately 230,000 men died out of a total of 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing).
Located in northeastern France within the Verdun battlefield, the Douaumont Cemetery has been designated a national cemetery. It contains bodies collected from the battlefield at the end of the war interred in 16,142 graves, making it the largest single French military burial place of the First World War.
The simple cross military marker hosts a metal plate engraved with the name of the fallen soldier; last name, first name, middle name; Battalion; ‘Killed In France’ with the date of death. There are also a large number of Muslim markers.
Within the cemetery is a memorial known as the Douaumont Ossuary containing the skeletal remains of over 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers who died on the Verdun battlefield. The tower contains beautiful stained glass windows and a bronze death-bell which is sounded at official ceremonies. At the top of the tower is a rotating red and white “lantern of the dead”, which shines on the battlefields at night.
From FOR THE FALLEN by Laurence Binyon They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
The graves of musicians almost always display symbols of music such as musical instruments, or notes of a song which may represent a favourite hymn or a song written by the deceased.
Historically, a lyre or harp was representative of heavenly music. When displayed with a broken string it symbolized the end of life.
This gravestone in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, marks the burial place for Professor George Edward Percy Careless, a pioneer of 1864. He led the Salt Lake Theatre orchestra and was appointed Tabernacle choir leader.
Ebenezer Beesley succeeded George Careless as the Conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
A harp also indicates Irish heritage as in this example of an elaborately decorated Celtic cross in the graveyard at Bonamargy Friary in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, Ireland.
Cindy Walker was an American songwriter responsible for a large number of popular and enduring songs recorded by many different artists. She was also a country music singer and dancer. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. This attractive memorial is located in Mexia City Cemetery, Texas, USA.
As an American musician and singer-songwriter Charles Hardin Holley, known as Buddy Holly, was influential in the rock and roll scene. In 1959, at the age of 22 when his career was taking off, he was tragically killed in a plane crash. He is buried in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas. The flat gravestone is engraved with a depiction of his Fender Stratocaster.
Johnny Ramone was the third member of the punk rock sensations, The Ramones, to pass away. He is memorialized with a bronze statue. The 50 year old Johnny (aka John Cummings) joined dead Ramones Joey and Dee Dee on September 15, 2004 after succumbing to prostate cancer. The $100,000 statue depicts the beloved NYC mophead with his Mosrite guitar in hand. It was sculpted by artist Wayne Toth. The memorial is located in Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, USA.
The almost illegible gravestone located in Brompton Cemetery, London, England, is marked with musical notes. I searched for a long time trying to match the few visible words to a verse or lyric, but without any luck.
Colonel Sanford C. Faulkner was a businessman and politician in Arkansas, USA. As a tribute to his life and his talent as a fiddle player (he composed the tune “The Arkansas Traveler”, which was the State song of Arkansas from 1949 to 1963), a marker was placed at his grave in 1954 by the Pulaski County Historical Society. The gravestone is inscribed; Known to his friends as Sandy known to fame as the Composer of the Arkansas Traveler.
This example of a standard CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) gravestone honours Second Lieutenant Hugh Gordon Langton, a talented violinist who died in 1917 while serving with the 4th Batallion London Regiment Royal Fusiliers. This is the only CWGC gravestone to be inscribed with a musical staff. It is believed to echo notes from an old American song called After The Ball. It is located in Poelcapelle British Cemetery, West Flanders, Belgium.
William Henry Thornton was a classical pianist who played music for the troops in World War One. He died during the influenza pandemic of 1918. The lid of the unusual piano memorial was originally engraved with his name, Harry Thornton. An inscription on the side is attributed to Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly; “Sweet thou art sleeping; cradled on my heart; safe in god’s keeping; while I must weep apart.” It is located in Highgate Cemetery, London, England.
Frederic Chopin was born in Poland to a French immigrant father. A Polish composer and virtuoso pianist he lived most of his life in Paris until he died from Tuberculosis in 1849. His grave which is located in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France, contains his body. However, in accordance with his wishes, his heart was interred at Holy Cross Church, Warsaw, Poland.
And in a fitting conclusion, we see a gravestone displaying the words from a song by the British rock band, Queen; ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST.
In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved stone sculpture designed with a spout to direct water from the masonry of a building. They were commonly used in Medieval times, particularly on churches and other tall buildings where erosion of the mortar between stones could cause the collapse of a building.
Gargoyles, often hideous representations of dragons or griffins, were mostly mythical beasts used as a protection against evil. The word Gargoyle is derived from a French word meaning throat or pipe, and also from the root word Gar (to swallow) which represents the sound of gurgling water.
Grotesques as the name suggests are also hideous sculptures but with no practical application other than a decorative role to ward off evil spirits, and as an encouragement to attend church to avoid demons in Hell. The most common grotesque is a Chimera (a creature created from the parts of other animals). Grotesques with wings were believed to fly at night, chasing evil spirits while inhabitants of the town slept.
In opposition to the original intention, the ‘grotesque’ appearance of these sculptures led people to believe that the sculptures themselves were evil.