Churchyards and cemeteries were once under the direct control of the Church. To overcome the prohibited burial of ex-communicated parishioners in sacrosanct land, burials were often undertaken illegally at night by torchlight that allowed gravediggers to see. It was also believed that the light prevented the appearance of evil spirits and nocturnal scavengers.
The symbolic flame of the torch is associated with the eternal spirit of man and represents immortality and resurrection. 3 images
Inverted torches are the more common version of this symbol of death and a life extinguished. If the inverted torch has a flame, it indicates that life is continuing after death. If there is no flame, it means the extinction of life and mourning.
This statue of an angel seated with inverted torch is dated 1875. Sculpted by Giannoulis Chalepas it is located in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.