Myth and Meaning Take Form in Roselawn’s Ossuary
Why do we visit cemeteries? Most often it is because we’ve lost a loved one and long to be close to them again. We visit a special place that holds the name and dates of someone important to us. We honor their memory by placing flowers or saying a prayer. It is a universal experience and one of the most personal things we do.
Myth has always served as a powerful metaphor for human experience. In the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Eurydice dies shortly after her marriage to Orpheus and he mourns her in song. Even Hades is moved by his music and allows Orpheus to lead Eurydice from the underworld, on the condition that he not look back at her as they ascend. In his anxiety he turns to see if she is there and loses her forever.
Inspired by this myth, sculptor Nicholas Legeros has created a unique ossuary for Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville. Located in front of the Garden of Remembrance, the ossuary will serve as the final resting place for the cremated remains of many people co-mingled in one well. Cemetery Superintendent Larry Hudella explainsa “With forty percent of Minnesotans selecting cremation today, we need to provide for the future requirements of our community.”
“Many people choose to scatter their cremains thinking that they are removing a burden from their loved ones when the opposite is true,” says sculptor Legeros. “We need ritual and ceremony, we need a special place of solemnity and dignity, and we want to show our descendants the names and dates of forbearers.”
The Ossuary at Roselawn is a fifty-six foot circular garden with a spiraling pathway lined by blocks of granite that hold the names of the deceased. In the center of the garden is a twenty-six inch polished bronze ball atop a bronze cylinder. The top of the ball shows the impressions of many hands encouraging visitors to touch the ball.
The ball is unlocked when in order to place cremains into the ossuary. As the ball is rotated, it raises five inches, revealing the opening to the ossuary. As the cremains are poured into the ossuary, they strike a cymbal, creating a final sound for every entrant.
Like Orpheus, we take a journey, the spiraling walkway to the final resting place of many people. We touch the ball searching for a hand that fits ours and we see ourselves reflected in the surface of the ball. At that moment we understand that the memory of our loved ones is something living and something we carry within ourselves.
Visit www.roselawncemetery.com for more information.