Sunday, March 28, 2010

Random Ramblings; Gravestone carvings? IHS?

This post is in no way book related, but I find it utterly fascinating plus it also has me quite spellbound. So, for one of my classes we have to do a project on gravestone's and various changes overtime made on them, which pretty much means I spend a lot of my time in my local cemetery walking around with a camera and a notebook. Yes, I have been whispered about; "what is that girl doing walking around with a camera?!?! *gasp*". But creep-speculating aside I have found that walking around a cemetery is both creepy and surprisingly comforting. I think it may be the whole; quiet but not alone thing. 

Anywho, I have noticed something on many tombstone originating from the late 1800's and right up until modern times; carvings of three letters, usually found on gravestones with crosses or christian symbology; IHS.

And once I saw this on one gravestone I saw them everywhere!!!;

I have looked EVERYWHERE online, I'm going to have to phone around to some local historical societies, but I thought it might be worth it to ask my blogger friends;

 does anyone know what I.H.S means on tombstones? Possibly catholic symbology?


  1. I hate going to cemeteries. It's just so depressing to me.

    Anyways, I looked it up and this is what I found:
    There's three interpretations.
    in hoc salus (I.H.S.) - There is safety in this.
    in hoc signo spes mea (I.H.S.) - the cross of Christ) is my hope
    in hoc signos vinces (I.H.S.)- By this sign you will conquer.

    That's really interesting. I've never noticed it before, but I guess I was never really paying attention.

  2. Thanks Adriana!! Yea I found those, but when I looked up pictures for that they looked different then the ones I found... It most likely is that though. Thanks :)

  3. When I googled it 3 possible meanings came up which is probably what you found as well--- so I'm am no help but I'm intrigued.

    Cemetaries are interesting places. I've hiked through the woods to find the secret grave of Belle Star, outlaw. There is a grave, probably from the 18oos, down and across the road from my house that I can see in the winter. It is on private land but I should go check it out.

    I know of people who picnic in cemetaries, hunt for old fashioned roses and make rubbings of tombstones.

    This post of yours reminds me of Gaiman's Graveyard Book about the little boy growing up in a graveyard and raised by ghosts. Did you read it?


  4. You probably have seen this already, but this is what I found:

    IHS" is sometimes interpreted as meaning Iesus Hominum Salvator ("Jesus, Savior of men" in Latin) or connected with In Hoc Signo. Some uses have even been created for the English language, where "IHS" is interpreted as an abbreviation of "I Have Suffered" or "In His Service". Such interpretations are known as backronyms. Used in Latin since the seventh century, the first use of IHS in an English document dates from the fourteenth century, in The vision of William concerning Piers Plowman.[1] Saint Bernardino of Siena popularized the use of the three letters on the background of a blazing sun to displace both popular pagan symbols and seals of political factions like the Guelphs and Ghibellines in public spaces.[citation needed]

  5. These are not facts, but I do remember this since I did go to a catholic school for almost all my high school years, lol.

    IHS - In His Service
    * There are other meaning too, like the others have already said such "I have suffered." They all basically mean one thing though: "I will my life to you" or "I trust in you to give me a place in heaven."

    Some have also seen "INRI" more than "IHS" but it the same meaning. "INRI" was the sign on the crucifix that Jesus was crucified on. It means 'Iesu Nazarene Rex Ieworum.' In english, it's 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.' This was used to mock Him, as no one believed him when He stated that he was.

    Hope I helped a bit!

  6. WOW thanks guys!!! thanks Jillian I couldn't find that anywhere!! BIG HELP!Same to you Nina!!!! THANKS SO MUCH GUYS

  7. What a cool blog post! Your question made me curious as well and I found a lot of different answers like the other people you commented did. I also found a different one - that they are the letters of the Greek letters for "Jesus." Either way, it is a cool mystery and an interesting graveyard discovery! :)


Nothings better than a comment! :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails