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Laurel Wreath

One of the most frequent decorations in city cemeteries is various forms of wreaths. The most frequently seen are laurel wreaths. In funerary art, laurel can represent victory, eternity, immortality and chastity. Its association with eternity and immortality comes from its leaves, which do not wilt or fade. Its association with victory comes from ancient contests where the triumphant winner was crowned with a laurel wreath; the crowning with a laurel wreath was supposed to bestow immortality on the recipient. In the Roman world, the laurel wreath was a symbol of military as well as intellectual glory and was also thought to cleanse the soul of any guilt it had over the slaying of enemies. Chastity is associated with laurel because the laurel was consecrated to the Vestal Virgins.

Anchor

The anchor is a symbol of hope. The reason for this symbolic meaning comes from the passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews 6:19-20: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Another type of anchor is the crux dissimulata. This anchor is actually a cross in disguise (the bottom open curve represents receptivity to spiritual matters). When Christians first started practicing their religion, they had to do it under a veil of secrecy lest they be persecuted for their beliefs. The anchor cross was one way Christians could broadcast their religion to other followers without being discovered. It is, understandably, a more popular symbol in cemeteries in coastal cities, but it has no direct link to the seafaring life.

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