Secular Quote on Catholic's Tombstone?

If you’re buried in a Catholic cemetery, do the words images/words on your tombstone necessarily have to be religious in nature? There’s a particular Shakespeare quote I’d like on mine. Would that sort of thing be permitted?

The most basic information I have seen in burial cemeteries in Europe and South America just have the name and the dates of birth and death of the person. But I cannot see why having something else written wouldn’t be permitted. I believe that is called the “epitaph”.



This article about a family being told that they were to remove a headstone that was considered inappropriate includes this paragraph:

Take it for what it’s worth.

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My understanding is, the more you have engraved on a grave marker, the more it costs. This likely stops most people from putting too much on a tombstone. I’ve seen lots of nicknames and family references, like “our gran-gran,” or “beloved son, brother and uncle,” or sayings like, “With Our Lord,” or “Together forever.” I’ve also seen short phrases from Scripture on grave markers in Catholic cemeteries. Check with the people who manage the cemetery, but I think if it’s not offensive and you can afford it, it’s probably okay.

It depends on the cemetery. You need to check with them about their policy before you plan any tombstones. I know the Catholic cemetery where my parents are buried only permits Scripture quotes and Catholic prayers. They might allow something like “Forever in our hearts” or “Our beloved Grandma” but Shakespeare would not be allowed.

People who want highly individualized gravestones usually select a non-Catholic/ non-religious cemetery where there’s often a lot more freedom in what is allowed.

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And even those are highly variable. My grandparents are buried in a general cemetery serving the whole city (as will my parents someday be), and the permitted grave markers actually vary by section of the grounds! In their space, it must be certain dimensions, but anything goes that you want to purchase. My other grandparents are in another section; there, name and dates are the only permissible items. In ALL cases with this place, only the cemetery itself can order a marker/stone. No outside vendors allowed. :confused: Quite expensive.

The neighboring church cemetery (Protestant) allows anything that’s not offensive to the church elders, but you can pretty much have any style, etc. beyond that - free of charge!

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The way I see it is I’m never going to be looking at it and after a couple of generations, nobody who even knew me will be looking at it. So name and dates; daughter, mother, grandmother; and faithful Catholic.

Various relatives of mine who are buried in Catholic cemetery have quotes from sports engraved on theirs. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the words are not offensive in nature.

Anglican cemeteries are quite tough on what is allowed in - this became something of a cultural battle recently with one cemetery not allowing an inscription Irish in. That got rather heated because Church of Ireland (as the Anglican Church is called in Ireland) cemeteries have no issue with that and and so it became a bit of of an issue as to why the inscription was refused.

Regular forum users will probably remember I posted on that before and notice that even the Church of England disowned the ruling but due to internal workings couldn’t just throw it out.

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