Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

December 17th, 1864

Garments of Mourning

“Putting on black” as a sign of mourning was an essentially heathen custom, indicating the horror of death, and that all beyond the grave was a blank. Mrs. Ware, in her very useful little book, “Death and Life,” has some excellent remarks upon these customs: – “The early Christians recognized the new aspect which the knowledge if immortality gave to the death of the body; and the soon ceased to use the signs of mourning for the dead, that till then had been universal. They felt that it was wrong to mourn the dead; and their epitaphs in the Roman catacombs still testify to the peaceful trust and the hopeful assurance that animated the minds of those who there deposited the mortal remains, often sealed with the blood of martyrdom of those they held most dear.

Among the thousands of inscriptions still to be read there, there is no allusion to be found to the grief of those who were left to perform the last offices to their friends. No inconsolable relatives immortalized their tears on those walls. The simplicity of a childlike faith that to die here was to live in the mansions of the all-loving Father, seems to have been the abounding source whence flowed the countless phrases that speak of death as always a good rather than an evil. The bad Latin in which mny [sic] of the inscriptions are couched, proves that a large proportion of the dead were of the lower and little educated classes; but all ranks seem to have been animated by the same spirit. Selfish grief finds no expression there; and the historians tell us that all signs of mourning in dress were deemed unfitting in those who believed in the Christian immortality.”


Published in: on November 22, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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