Tag Archives: Catholic cemetery

Weekly Photo Challenge: Winter

Christmas Day, New Calvary Cemetery

Twenty years ago or so, my brother and I celebrated Christmas at my parents’ farm outside of Flint, Michigan.  As the afternoon got older, after the presents were opened and the feast consumed, Allen wanted to go for a drive.  Nothing was open, of course, and we had nowhere to go as early twilight drew on.  So we ended up — as you do — at the cemetery.

We had no family buried in New Calvary.  I’d never been there before and I haven’t been back since.  My memory of the cemetery is that it was full of your everyday granite monuments: nothing to go out of your way for.  That may be unfair.  It could well have changed.

That afternoon, thick, heavy snow was falling.  You can see the snowflakes reflecting the flash from my little Instamatic camera.  Clumps of snow clung to the statue of Jesus, crowning him, mantling him, masking his face.  Snow gathered in the chalice held by the angel.  Between them, a leafy plant struggled upward through the snow.  That part of the statue made me think that this group embodied the night in Gethsemane, while Christ prayed for the courage to accept his martyrdom.

The photo captures that day for me so poignantly.  When it was taken, I didn’t know that I’d outlive my brother.  This year he will have been dead for an entire decade. It surprises me how much the loss still hurts.

What I wouldn’t give for another stroll through a snow-covered cemetery with him.

Another post about my family

One of Detroit’s oldest surviving graveyards

Detroit's  Mount  Elliott  Cemetery   (MI)  (Images  of  America)Detroit’s Mount Elliott Cemetery (MI) by Cecile Wendt Jensen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am glad there is a guide to this old and historic place. Unfortunately for my taste, this book leans more toward genealogy and listing the complete names of strangers who left little mark in history than toward images of the beauties and wonders to be found at this graveyard. That’s good if your family traces itself back to Old Detroit, but not so good when it comes to giving a traveler a reason to go out of her way.

Of all the cemeteries of Detroit, I will rank this one last in terms of need to visit, based on this book. Which, I admit, is a shame. In general, I prefer to visit Catholic cemeteries over Protestant ones, based on my preference for the more ornate mortuary statuary often found there. Such things may exist in Mount Elliott (there are hints in some of the photos), but the bulk of the monuments illustrated here are less than compelling.

All that said, the author provides some fascinating information on the symbolism on military and Fireman’s Fund grave monuments. I wish she’d focused more on those elements, about which she is impressively knowledgeable.

The book is available on Amazon: Detroit’s Mount Elliott Cemetery (MI) (Images of America)

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