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Calvary Cemetery Gates

Tower Drove Park, Downtown and Calvary Cemetery 098

I sometimes forget about Calvary Cemetery, drawn to the numerous mausolea of the industrial giants of St. Louis history in Bellefontaine Cemetery.  But Calvary has many interesting and beautiful aspects, starting with its front gates, built I would estimate in the first two decades or so of the Twentieth Century.

Tower Drove Park, Downtown and Calvary Cemetery 099

It is dominated by the central column with a crucifix at the top, and the names of the apostles around its base.  I suspect the armored man is St. Louis.

Tower Drove Park, Downtown and Calvary Cemetery 100

The crucifixion features Christ, of course, but also St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary, which is the standard in Catholic imagery.

Tower Drove Park, Downtown and Calvary Cemetery 101

I found the base fascinating, as I have never seen the apostles’ names arranged in such a manner on what look like coats of arms.  Each symbol represents their martyrdom: St. Andrew has an x-shaped cross since that is how he was crucified; technically, though St. Peter was martyred by being crucified upside-down, he is shown with the keys to heaven and earth, the symbol of the Papacy.

Tower Drove Park, Downtown and Calvary Cemetery 097

St. Bartholomew was flayed alive, hence the long slicing knife; St. Matthew was killed by assassins while baptizing acolytes, but St. Simon’s fish mystifies me.  It turns out he was one of the least documented of the twelve disciples; he was not a fisherman and he was martyred with a saw.

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Where to start with the symbolism of the peacock?  First off it shed its feathers once a year, a symbol of rebirth; St. Augustine in The City of God spoke of its supposed ability of its flesh to not decay; and of course the “eyes” on the feathers relate to the concept of spiritual vision.

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The iron gates have even more symbols; I will only dwell on the ointment jar which I assume represents Mary Magdalene.

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The gatehouse continues on the themes of the gate.  I hesitate to call this style Beaux-Arts, when it in reality is more of a late, restrained or reserved classicism you see in the Civil Courts Building and other buildings downtown.

Tower Drove Park, Downtown and Calvary Cemetery 105

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