It is not difficult to find symbols of fraternities within a cemetery, and most of these fraternities required from their members a belief in a higher power. Less common than the Masonic, Woodsmen of the World, or International Order of Oddfellows symbols are the ‘Knight” Fraternities of which I highlight only a few.
The Knights Templar, a Catholic military order was founded in 1119. Famous for their military prowess in the Crusades the majority of the order was non combative. symbol consists of a cross within a crown inside a Maltese cross, with the Latin phrase, “In Hoc Signo Vinces.” The phrase means “in this sign you shall conquer”.
The Fraternal Order of the Knights of Pythias is an international fraternity that promotes universal peace. It was founded in Washington, DC during the Civil War by Justus H. Rathbone. A heraldic shield with a suit of armor or letters F C B indicate a member of the Knights of Pythias.
The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded by Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882, it was named in honor of the explorer Christopher Columbus to provide a Catholic alternative to secret societies and to support the families of men who died while working in factories. The present day Fraternity is engaged in local and global charities inside and outside the Catholic church.
The Greek spelling of the name Jesus ‘IHCOYC’ is abbreviated as IHC; when translated into Latin as ‘IHSOUS’ the abbreviation is IHS.
Both versions can be found although the latter abbreviation is the most common when engraved on gravestones. It is a symbol of the Holy Name of Jesus.
IHS is also an abbreviation of the Latin Phrase in hoc signo meaning, in this sign and is most often used when part of the anagram of the Latin phrase, In Hoc Signo Vinces meaning, in this sign you shall conquer. It is most often seen on family crests, military memorials and symbols of the Knights Templar.
Agnus Dei is a Christian symbol representing the Lamb of God. It is one of the earliest symbols of Christ deriving from Saint John the Baptist’s exclamation on beholding Christ, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world ” (John 1, 29).
The symbol depicts a lamb with a halo standing on the ground, holding by the right forefoot a banner flying on a wooden cross. It represents the risen Christ triumphant over death. A similar image showing the lamb with a gash in its side, symbolizes the passion of Christ.
In some instances the lamb may be seated.
A reclining Agnus Dei seated on a book with seven seals, represents the final judgment when Christ returns in glory.
Agnus Dei was adopted as a Masonic symbol by the Knights Templar and is found on several of their seals.
The Agnus Dei is also a badge of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. The Paschal Lamb with a halo above its head, supports over one shoulder a flag bearing the device of St. George, a red cross upon a white field.
Just back from a visit to Scotland where there are a multitude of century old cemeteries just waiting to be photographed and documented.
The village of Temple in Midlothian, Scotland is named after the famous military order of the Knights Templar. The Order of the Temple was founded to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land against attack by the Saracens.
The ruins of the old parish church date from the early 14th century. The late Gothic tracery can still be seen with animals carved at both ends of the mouldings above the windows.
In the churchyard are many interesting headstones including the memorial to the farmer at Outerston, John Craig, who died in 1742. He is shown in his best clothing and with his children.
Here Lyes John Craig / Farmer In Outerston / Who Died April 23 1742 / Aged 68 Years ~ Also / His Son William / Craig Late Farmer In / Outerston illegible Who Died 1799
This gravestone contains symbols representing tools used in the trade of Masonry (the builder); a compass, a ruler, a hand brace and a hammer.
Another gravestone with Masonic tools; a compass, a square and three blocks, one of which has a nail at the top which may represent a hinge.
Erected / In Memory Of / Andrew Murray / Who Died illegible Aged Illegible / Also Mary Melrose His Wife / Who Died illegible / Agnes Murray Their Daughter / Who Died Illegible / illegible Murray Their Son
In / Fond / Remembrance / Of / Wee Ian / Beloved Son Of / Frank & Isabella Bain / Who Died At Fountainside / 7th October 1925, Aged 5 ½ Months