Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grave images: Doves

The dove is a traditional Christian symbol for love and peace. It also is a symbol for the Holy Spirit.

Does the direction of a dove’s flight (for example, descending) give us a clue to its intended meaning on a gravestone?

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. (Matthew 3:16)
Not all gravestone doves are in flight. It is not unusual to find the statue of a lifeless dove on a gravestone, especially a child’s: A strong symbol for an innocent life cut short.

Milford Center Cemetery, Union County, Ohio; Pleasant Cemetery, Marion County, Ohio; Darby Township Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio; Cheshire Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio; West Rushville Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio; Thomas Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio


  1. The dove was also known as a symbol for the mother goddess [see http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/11/dove-in-symbolism.html ]who was worshipped in caves represented by arches. Thus the photographs with images of both doves and arches has double reference to the mother goddess.

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  3. Kara, thank you for sharing this link and info. We cannot always be certain of a specific symbol on a specific gravestone, but it is always good to understand as many of the possible interpretations as we can!


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