Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday –Roman Catholic Symbolism

This weekend, my friend and I drove up to Cheektowaga, just south of Buffalo, New York to see the tombstone of her second-great grandparents, Daniel & Anna Kreher Reinhardt. (I talked about my research on this family here.) It was a blustery cold day, but there was no snow on the ground.
There are cemeteries for at least a mile or two on either side of the road, Pine Ridge Heritage Blvd, which we traveled on to get there. We first turned into the Roman Catholic Polish Cemetery by mistake (St. Stanislaus). We got back on the main road and kept going about another half a mile, passing a Jewish Cemetery until finally we got to the United French and German Cemetery. We knew which section to start looking in. It was Section R, to the left of the small St. Ann’s Chapel built in 1872. After walking along for a bit, my friend turned in and almost immediately walked right up to the stones of her ancestors. She had never been there before. My research and explanation that I knew it was a flat stone from Find-A-Grave was her only guidance.
 The wind was super-fierce that morning and we didn’t stay out of the car for long. On the way back to the car, I snapped a few other photographs of some of the interesting statues there. I took this one picture in particular because I was curious. I’ve never seen a statue with a wheel as part of the symbolism before. My first glimpse of one had been earlier when we turned into the Polish Cemetery by mistake. I wondered about the significance of the wheel.

It was a very productive day overall, with the cemetery visit being just the first success. Afterwards, we took another road in Cheektowaga where we found a place that sold hardwood floors. I think I’ve found the perfect flooring for my house which is one of those projects I have going. Sweet!
Before we headed home, we stopped at a second-hand shop where we love to browse. I need books like I need a hole in the head, but that’s the first section I went to. You just never know what you might find! The offer was buy four and get one free, so I tried to limit myself to five. One of them that I picked up is called Chaos, Gaia, Eros: A Chaos Pioneer Uncovers the Three Great Streams of History by Ralph Abraham. I am a history buff if nothing else, so in the cart it went.
I cracked the book open for the first time after I got home. The very front page included a dedication to Hypatia, A.D. 370-415, whom the author shares was "canonized in the Christian hierarchy as Saint Catherine of the Wheel, whose cult began in the ninth century at Mount Sinai" (emphasis added). Hmmm, how interesting is that? Having little exposure to Catholicism, I had never heard of her before, but now I think I should do a little more research and see what else I can find…


  1. You had a great day. I have never seen a wheel on a tombstone. interesting. My husband and I used to live in Cheektowaga but haven't been back in some time.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Colleen! I definitely want to go back when the weather's better and wander through all those cemeteries. Who knows what else I'll find :)