Friday, March 29, 2013

Cemetery Angels at Easter

Angels abound in the cemetery.  They have been described since ancient times as the guardians, guides, and intercedents for humans; as well as carrying out heavenly tasks, and acting as messengers of God.

Angels are considered to be spiritual beings that take on a human form with wings.

Angels are prevalently mentioned in the Bible during the Passover and Easter seasons.    They are recognized in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, although most Eastern religions do not believe in angels.

It is an angel that appears to Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, at the cross.

It is an angel, which rolls the stone away to reveal an empty tomb on Easter Monday.

Angels in the cemetery offer us clues to their identities, if we search for the symbolism surrounding them.

An agent of God can be seen pointing the way to heaven for a departed soul, or holding the wreath of victory over death.

There are also several famous angels found in the cemetery.  In Thomas Heywood’s Hierarchy of Blessed Angels, written in 1635, the Angels of the Four Winds are Gabriel of the north winds, Michael of the east winds, Raphael of the west winds, and Uriel of the south winds.

Gabriel is God’s primary messenger and the first angel to be mentioned by name in the Bible.

Gabriel is an angel in many religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  He is mentioned in religions such as Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Anglican Communion, and the Catholic Church.

Gabriel is considered to be a kind angel who performs acts of healing.  He is easy to identify in the cemetery – Look for his horn. Gabriel is usually shown with his horn in his hand or blowing his horn to indicate the Second Coming.

Another well known angel is Michael.  Michael is an archangel and known as the holy fighter.  He performs acts of justice and is considered the most “God-like” of the angels.

In the New Testament, Michael is the leader of God’s armies against Satan’s forces.  He is considered an angel in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Islam, Judaism, Anglicanism, and Oriental Orthodoxy.

Michael is usually seen with a sword, carrying a banner or scales (for justice,) or seen stepping on the devil.

Another cemetery angel is Raphael. He is recognized as an archangel in Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  Raphael is the angel that heals.

Raphael may be seen holding a bottle or flask.  He can also be identified when carrying a staff or fish.

Uriel is an archangel recognized in such religions as Judaism, Anglican, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Oriental Orthodoxy. He is known as the “light of God.”

Uriel is depicted in the Apocalypse of Peter as the angel of repentance. Uriel is also the angel that checks the doors of Egypt for lamb’s blood.  He is the keeper of the key to the Pit during the end of times, and can be identified carrying a sword or a palm.

Yet another angel seen in the cemetery but usually not identified is Samael.
Samael is regarded as an angel who is both good and wicked.  In Judaism, he is the angel that tempted Eve. He is also the angel of death.

Samael is depicted in the cemetery as the grim reaper with a scythe in hand.

There are said to be over 30 varieties of angels, but most are not given names.  They are shown to be like humans with wings and halos; acting as the servants of God, messengers of God, and who intercede between humans and God.

Angels are considered to be benevolent spirits, who protect and guide humans before and after death.  This may be why they are so prevalent in cemeteries around the world – Helping those who have passed, and comforting those who remain…

~ Joy


  1. Interesting, and I love the photos. Now I want to go check my local cemetery for angels!

    Jenny at Choice City Native

    1. Jenny, you will be amazed at how many there are.... ; )

  2. I wonder if my blog last week gave you the idea for yours. Very informative blog.

    1. Sorry Bill, I didn't see your blog. But as they say "great minds..." ; )

  3. Very nice. We have few angels adorning our cemeteries in rural Georgia. Most old stones are simple or dedicated to the civil war.

    1. Thanks Allen. It's always interesting to see how cemeteries can vary throughout an area or state. Each region is different in what was considered 'proper' or what could be afforded.

  4. This is the best article I've ever seen on cemetery angels. I learn so much from you, Joy.

    1. Thanks, Loren. As you well know - this becomes addictive ; )