Bellefontaine Cemetery, Florissant, Missouri
Angels watch over the dead all over the world.
You’ve seen the statues… wings, solemn indifferent faces, flowing gowns. They’re beautiful, for sure, but I love finding human figures like these in Bellefontaine Cemetery in Florissant.
Maysie Walker Pittman, Bellefontaine Cemetery
Maysie stands calmly beside her own grave. She’s at ground level, life sized. You feel like you could walk up and put your arm around her shoulder. No towering plinth keepering her out of reach.
Gorgeous detail here.
The woman who mourns the Hobbs family, Bellefontaine Cemetery.
The poses and gowns are similar, but here the wife mourns her fallen husband. This widow made sure her husband was never left alone.
Another lady companion.
Companions like these aren’t as common as angels, so I love finding them. One of my absolute favorites sits in a little cemetery in Kansas, called Antioch Pioneer. Check it out.
Where’s your favorite?
Protestant Cemetery, Rome, Italy
The Angel of Grief – my favorite tombstone of all time.
This gorgeous sculpture by William Wetmore Story, weeps atop his wife Emelyn’s grave in Rome, Italy. William was the hottest American sculptor there from 1819 -1895. When Emelyn died, he poured his grief into this beautiful piece. It’s been copied all over the world, but none of the flatterers are as elegantly poignant as the original.
…or non-catholic cemetery, as the Italian name translates literally, is one of my favorites. I mean, you have to go to Rome to see it, so duh. A lot of famous people rest there, but it’s the not so famous and totally unknown, the quirky, the tragic the pathetic, the stunningly narcissistic, (see 30-meter-tall Pyramid of Cestius), that blend to give it its distinctive ambiance. Part English church garden, part first-century Roman ruin, this cemetery’s on the top of my MUST GO BACK TO list.
I always love Let’s Go Guides for European travel info. Unlike Frommer’s and Michelin, Let’s Go caters to students and travelers with small budgets. It’ll point you to the best eateries and coffee bars around the cemetery, the ones the locals hang out in.
I visited this 150-year-old cemetery over a decade ago and got a harsh reality check recently when I went back.
Granted, it was 104° F, a far cry from the balmy spring weather of my first visit. But, that didn’t explain the lack of shadowy, Victorian pathos that I expected.
I had kind of a Planet of the Apes moment – you know the Statue of Liberty scene? I KNEW I was in the wrong place until I found two graves.
A simple epitaph: John B. Valle, May 3, 1827, August 22, 1869.
Here’s some insight into my taphophelia. Over the decade, I’d elaboratly decorated my memories to make a more appropriate set for the tragic romance I’d invented for John Valle and his consort, Mary St. Gemme.
In Memorium of Mary M. St. Gemme consort of John B. Valle, born February 9 1832, died March 6, 1853, 21 years, 6 days.
The cemetery I “remembered” was crowded with statues and tipped stones all carved in French. Moss hung from the branches of ancient trees and brushed my shoulders as I wandered narrow, winding paths among the graves.
No kidding. That’s exactly what I expected.
Monument to Mary St. Gemme with the simple grave of John Valle at her feet.
Instead of telling you the story these two graves inspired in my obviously overactive imagination, just look at the pictures and the dates yourself. If you come up with a tale too, then you and I are kindred spirits…or similarly obsessed at least. Let me know.