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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Symbols

Cross in the churchyard, Banbury, England Banbury, England ~ February 15, 2010


OF YOUR CHARITY
PRAY
FOR THE SOUL OF
THE VERY REV. GEORGE ABRAHAM
BRABAZON V.P.
FOR 32 YEARS PRIEST OF THIS MISSION
WHO DIED JULY 15TH 1929
AGED 60 YEARS

If anyone knows about the interwoven "S" symbol, please give us a clue! It was on a number of the markers, or at least more than one.
February 28: Several of you found helpful information.
Renee said, "It's actually three letters: I, H and S. And it is Latin for "In hoc signo vince” or in English, “In this sign you shall conquer.”
Francisca sent this link: http://newenglandoddities.com/2008/06/02/headstone-symbols-in-hoc-signo-vince/
VP gave us this link: http://www.christiansymbols.net/
And Stan Hollenbeck sent a long, descriptive e-mail:
I am assuming that this was an Roman Catholic Church graveyard and believe the symbol to be a graphic representation of the christogram "In Hoc Signo".
Legend has it that the Emporer Constantine was marching with his army when he looked up to the sun and saw a cross of light above it, and with it the Greek words "εν τούτῳ νίκα" ("by this, be victorious!", often rendered in Latin as In hoc signo vinces) and decided it meant he must convert to Christianity. In Hoc Signo (IHS) became a common symbol for Roman Catholics and remains so to this day. I've attached a jpeg of a simpler but similarly themed grave marker.
The ribbon-like details are a part of the clerical vestment known as the stole, called a epitrachilion in Orthodox churches, which is a long, narrow garment that is worn around the neck so that it hangs down in front of the wearer’s legs, ending below the knees. They came into the church, probably as a cloth that the celebrant could use to clean the Communion ware as part of the service, and for that reason, the stole became a Eucharistic garment.
The four interlaced stoles form an I-H-S and probably indicate that those who lie beneath the marker were clergy of the Roman Catholic faith.
Thanks to all of you - we've learned something!
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7 comments:

Renee said...

I always love older grave markers--they're so much more poetic than the ones of today. Interesting symbol with the interwoven "S,"n any idea of the significance? Thanks for visiting my blog :)

cieldequimper said...

Not very old but still very nice. Am looking forward to all those fresh photos of England!

Jacob said...

I was going to ask you what the symbol meant! :-)

I'll bet you had a great time in Merry Olde England!

Renee said...

It's actually three letters: I, H and S. And it is Latin for "In hoc signo vince” or in English, “In this sign you shall conquer.”

Francisca said...

An elegant cross. Check this, Sheryl: http://newenglandoddities.com/2008/06/02/headstone-symbols-in-hoc-signo-vince/

tapirgal said...

Thanks to several of you who have been helpful in finding the meaning of the symbol. I know from my other photos of the graveyard that the two big crosses in front were both honoring "priests of the mission," so they would be most likely to have this symbol on them. I'm going to add some info to the original post.

VP said...

To add my link: Christian Symbology.