Besides tombstones, the feature most often associated with cemeteries is angels. If you get a glimpse of an angel while driving down the road, it’s likely you are driving by a cemetery. Wander into the cemetery and you’ll likely see dozens of these heavenly messengers dotting the landscape. Despite their winged countenance, they are tremendously variable in their posture and expression. While some are draped over tombs in grief, others seem ready to take flight with heavenly joy and aspiration. Tears stream from the eyes of one; another face is filled with adoration; another manages a wistful smile. Skilled sculptors have indeed brought cold stone and bronze to life.
Most angels in cemeteries are of a generic variety, but with a little sleuthing, a cemetery visitor can usually find an example of Gabriel, since he is portrayed with a horn; statues of Michael with his sword or shield are also fairly common. Cherubs are often found adorning children’s graves.
Oftentimes, a cemetery has one particular angel that gets significantly more attention than others. Cemeterians tell us that people seem to adopt specific angels and call them their own. Certain angels seem to attract fresh-cut flowers; others attract toys and teddy bears.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) wrote in Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2: Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: / And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
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