Prayer beads are common in many cultures for example, in Buddhism, they are known as Malas. The Rosary which is specific to Roman Catholicism is devoted to Mary the Blessed Virgin and Mother of Jesus Christ.
Catholics believe the Rosary is a remedy against severe trials, temptations and the hardships of life, and that the Rosary is one of the great weapons given to believers in their battle against evil. They are almost always found on Catholic gravestones as a symbol of devotion to Mary and constant prayer for the deceased person.
The Rosary is comprised of a set of beads to recall events in the life of Jesus and Mary. They are arranged in five sets of ten (decade) and each decade is separated from the next by a larger bead. The two ends of the rosary are joined by a small string holding a crucifix, two large beads, and three small beads, 59 beads in total.
The Joyful Mysteries
The Annunciation: Mary learns that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
The Visitation: Mary visits Elizabeth, who tells her that she will always be remembered.
The Nativity: Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem.
The Presentation: Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to God.
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple: Jesus is found in the Temple discussing his faith with the teachers.
The Sorrowful Mysteries
The Agony in the Garden:Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before he dies.
The Scourging at the Pillar: Jesus is lashed with whips.
The Crowning With Thorns: Jesus is mocked and crowned with thorns.
The Carrying of the Cross: Jesus carries the cross that will be used to crucify him.
The Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross and dies.
The Glorious Mysteries
The Resurrection: God the Father raises Jesus from the dead.
The Ascension: Jesus returns to his Father in heaven.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit comes to bring new life to the disciples.
The Assumption of Mary: At the end of her life on earth, Mary is taken body and soul into heaven.
The Coronation of Mary: Mary is crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The Luminous Mysteries were introduced by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan: God proclaims that Jesus is his beloved Son.
The Wedding Feast at Cana: At Mary’s request, Jesus performs his first miracle turning water into wine.
The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God: Jesus calls all to conversion and service to the Kingdom.
The Transfiguration of Jesus: Jesus is revealed in glory to Peter, James, and John.
The Institution of the Eucharist: Jesus offers his Body and Blood at the Last Supper.
The butterfly is symbolic of the resurrection of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. The meaning is derived from the three stages of its life: the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the butterfly. It is often seen on the graves of children.
What we keep in memory is ours unchanged forever.
Weep not for me I go to my Father where I will meet you all again. 1877
The call was short, the shock severe To part with one we love so dear Thy purpose Lord we cannot see But all is well that’s done by Thee. 1914
My Marian gone, a mother cries
And soon the tomb will from me hide
My life, my love, my infant dear
To sleep in death and silence here. 1826
A heart is the universal symbol for love and devotion. In the graveyard it represents mortality and the essence of life i.e. a person’s spirit or soul, and is therefore symbolic of charity, courage, joy, and sorrow.
This grave appears to be the resting place of a mother and daughter, Catherine and Annie, who died aged 64 years and 27 years in the latter part of the 19th century.
On the left: Mite Cor Jesu Miserere Nobis: Gentle Heart Of Jesus, Have Mercy On Them. A a cross emerging from a heart is surrounded by sun rays which represents the resurrection.
The central iconography displaying a cross and crown symbolizes the reward of eternal life after death for those who believe in the crucified Savior. The grapes and leaves represents Jesus Christ and the Christian faith where wine symbolizes the blood of Jesus and the Sacraments.
The engraving on the right shows a heart pierced by a sword. This is symbolic of Christ and repentance. “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul.” (Luke 2:35) Dulce Cor Marie Ora Pro Eis: Sweet Heart Of Mary, Pray For Them.
The rose represents love and purity and the brevity of life on earth.
Two joined hearts on a stone identify a marriage.
The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light. It is symbolic of religious fervour.
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A heart encircled with thorns symbolizes the suffering of Christ for our sins. The same meaning is attached to a bleeding heart.
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