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What do Feet Symbolize in Historic Cemeteries?

April A to Z Challenge 2020: It’s that time of year! Every April, bloggers around the world make posts for each letter of the alphabet. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to make friends online. Here’s my post for today:

[The following is an adapted excerpt from my book, Understanding Cemetery Symbols. I hope you enjoy it! Also, full disclosure: that’s an Amazon affiliate link. If you buy stuff after clicking it, I make a few pennies at no additional cost to you.]

Father Time has bare feet. photo (c) Tui Snider
Bare-footed Saints and Angels

Have you ever noticed that saints and angels are nearly always depicted in bare feet? In Biblical times people often walked barefoot, but there are symbolic reasons for this, too.

Saints and angels are usually in bare feet. photo (c) Tui Snider

Heavenly connection

A bare foot demonstrates a direct connection to earth. For a saint or angel to touch the earth with their barefeet is a way of expressing the connection between Heaven and earth.

Mother Mary is sometimes depicted standing on a serpent’s neck! photo (c) Tui Snider

Sign of humility

Walking barefoot is a humble way to get around, so in this way, a bare foot touching the earth is a sign of humility and service, as well.

Saints and angels are sometimes depicted standing on a serpent’s neck! photo (c) Tui Snider

Standing on a serpent

The Virgin Mary is often seen standing barefoot on top of a globe, to represent the world. At times, she is even depicted stepping on a snake. Taken together, this symbolizes that faith in God allows you to triumph over sin (the snake.) Additionally, when the serpent has an apple in its mouth, it stands for original sin.

But wait! There’s more:

If you think feet are interesting, just wait ’til you hear about hands! Subtle differences in hands can symbolize vastly different things including: marriage, secret society membership, sacrifice, sudden death, and more!

To learn more, grab my FREE book:The Many Meanings of Hands in Historic Cemeteries. To get your copy, click here.

Catch my show tonight – April 7th, 2020!

My friend, Mark Olson, will be discussing how and why he created several meaningful monuments on the next episode of Tombstone Tuesday, my 30-minute podcast about exploring historic cemeteries. If the topic interests you, I hope you’ll join us – or maybe even call into the show! (Click here to listen to the show and see the graphic below for more info. You can even call into the live show if you have any questions or comments.)

Learn more at my Historic Cemetery Podcast & Facebook Page:

Do you have questions about symbols you’ve seen on headstones? Drop by Exploring Historic Cemeteries on Facebook and let me know! And tune in to my 30-minute historic cemetery podcast on the first Tuesday of each month: Tombstone Tuesday with Tui Snider.

READ MY BOOK: If you enjoy historic cemeteries and want to learn more, check out my book: Understanding Cemetery Symbols. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and ebook form.

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Tui Snider
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  1. I think I’m going to have to start paying closer attention to my ancestor headstones and monuments!
    I’m going to share on my group Facebook page about tonight’s podcast. Should be interesting!
    Looking forward to learning more!

    • Oh, yeah! Those headstones can offer helpful clues! And thank you for sharing the podcast info. I’m really excited for tonight’s show. :)

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