Tag Archives: shroud

Veil of Death

The veil of death is represented in several forms such as a pall, shroud, or drapery. In the 20th century, when a person died the body was laid out in the parlour. It was also the custom to cover everything in black including mirrors, paintings, etc. A PALL was the cloth which was carried over the coffin.

A SHROUD conceals the partition between life and death, and is symbolic of mortality, sorrow and mourning. It is most commonly seen draped over an urn.

The gravestone below also contains inverted torches which symbolize death and a life extinguished. The flame indicates life continuing after death. shroud-urn-torch-campbellville-_jane

This gravestone contains circles supporting the shroud. They represent eternal life and never-ending existence. shroud-cirlce-milton-evergren

The trefoils supporting the shroud represent the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.shroud-trefoil-uslinch_crown

We miss thee in the circle around the fireside
We miss thee in devotion at peaceful eventide
The memory of thy nature so full of truth and love
Shall lead our thoughts to seek thee amongst the blest above

A cross draped with the shroud of Christ is symbolic of Christ’s descent from the cross and the removal of his body for burial.

DRAPERY is similar to a shroud with the addition of frills and tassels and denotes mourning.

The draped urn represents the soul. 

The Gothic cross symbolizes the grave of an adult Christian.

The circle on the gravestone below represents eternal life. drapery-circle-georgetown_greenwood

Two draped columns denote a family plot where each panel records details of a family member’s life. Draped columns are a funerary sign of burial.

DISCARDED CLOTHING represents the fact that the dead have left behind the burdens of life.
Several rosebuds on the same branch denotes secrecy. However, in this case it is most likely representative of the strong bond between two people.


Stemming from early practises, cremation rituals were more common than burial. The shape of the container in which the ashes were placed may have been a simple box or a marble vase, but no matter what it looked like it was called an “urn,” derived from the Latin ‘uro’, meaning “to burn.”

Used as a symbol of mourning by the ancient Greeks, it was carried in funeral processions to catch the tears of those who grieved.
Dalkeith_St Nicholas_vase Campbellville _Jane Drapes

As burial became a more customary ritual, the urn was one of the most common of monuments, representing the body as a vessel of the soul and its return to dust while the spirit of the departed eternally rested with God.
Puslinch_Crown (14) Milton_Evergreen_finial

An urn draped with cloth represents the last partition between life and death. The cloth or shroud draping an urn symbolically guards the ashes as the soul departs the body for its trip to heaven.

An urn with angels on each side signifies the assistance of the deceased on its flight to heaven.
 Angels urn

A flame (blaze) issuing from an urn symbolizes undying friendship.
 FLAME_MA_Boston_Copps Hill_Reader FLAME_Oakville_urn

An urn with a wreath often represents the death of an older person and reflects mourning, remembrance and sorrow.

A shattered urn denotes that the deceased lived to an old age.