The term “columbarium” has often been used interchangeably with the term “mausoleum.” They are both words describing permanent resting places for the deceased that are open to the public. Family and friends gather to remember loved ones, who have passed, by visiting mausoleums and columbaria. Although these two words refer to monument structures, they are designed for two distinct burial practices. Mausoleums are intended for full body burial while columbaria are designed to inter the cremains.

The “columbarium” is still an unfamiliar word to most people who often confuse it with the word “mausoleum”, but as the trend towards cremation grows, the seemingly erased grey area becomes more discernable as people learn to distinguish one from the other. Many of today’s cemetery buildings are built to cater to both full body burials and cremation interment and are often referred to as “mausoleums.” Thus, the confusion persists, but PCUMC’s Memorial Garden consists only of columbarium niches.

As Americans are slowly becoming more familiar with cremation and columbaria, here are a few facts that may be of interest.

• Fact 1: The term columbarium is derived from the Italian word “Columba” which translates to the word dove. In the Ancient Roman Times, a columbarium did not involve human memorials. Instead, they were large homes made in communities for doves and pigeons.

• Fact 2: The general, columbarium design is thematically similar. Although the aesthetics and engineering are more advanced, the columbarium still consists of a series of stacked enclosures called niches. Today, each enclosure is reserved for the urn of a particular individual (or two individuals in the case of companion niches) in the PCUMC Memorial Garden.

• Fact 3: The columbarium niche is where family members can inter their loved one’s cremains. Urns are designed for the purpose of holding human cremains. Today scattering the ashes of a loved one is a current trend, but sometimes families regret their decision later. Purchasing a columbarium niche in a memorial garden may be a more comforting option.

Like the Ancient Romans of the past, we too cherish a place to commemorate a life once lived. Though the columbaria shapes and the designs may have changed over the centuries, their purpose remains the same. Today’s columbaria manufacturing focuses on: architecture, advanced engineering design, craftsmanship and granite exteriors all designed to provide memorials with the elegance and permanence that will stand the test of time. These structures define our vision of beauty, love, and devotion for future generations to see. The columbarium is more than just a resting place.

If you are interested, see the “Frequently Asked Questions” on our website or call the church office at 386-445-1600 to be put in touch with a member of the Columbarium Committee.