All about Columbariums

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A columbarium is a place of eternal rest, a cinerary monument, that is to say, it is designed to hold the ashes of a deceased person. Often erected in collective form, columbariums have several compartments where the urns of deceased people can be kept together. Like a cemetery plot, a columbarium space can hold one, two or more urns from the same family, if space permits. Crématorium Montréal takes the mystery out of columbariums for you!

Originating in ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, death without a grave was unthinkable. The purpose of funeral rites and ceremonies was to prevent the souls of the deceased from wandering restlessly and tormenting their families. While the poorest were often thrown into mass graves, cremation was a ritual reserved for the richest. It was even possible to perceive the wealth of individuals by the quality of the ashes, where even the bones were reduced to a fine white dust. The urns were then placed in a columbarium for eternal rest.

Columbariums were also an option of choice for the citizens of ancient Rome. They were built partly or entirely underground, on public land along the Roman roads, in order to keep the cities “pure”. The columbariums, sanctified by the priests, were an inexpensive way to ensure the transition between life and death, because at that time, cremation was the most common funeral practice. The nobility sometimes granted the privilege of this ritual to some of their most esteemed slaves. With the arrival of Christianity in the 11th century, burial was gradually imposed, thereby reducing the use of columbariums for several centuries.

Among the most famous columbariums, we find : Pomponius Hylas, Tiberius Claudius Vitalis and that of Vigna Codini, all located in Rome.

The columbariums of today

Today, columbariums allow for above-ground burials, which can be in an outdoor garden or even indoors, in a temperature-controlled atmosphere. They can be part of a cemetery or a stand-alone building. Derived from Latin, the word columba means “pigeon house”, which explains the specific architecture of these buildings. The niches have secure facades—either transparent, to allow the urn and the deposited memories to be seen, or made of granite or bronze with an engraved plaque in the same way as a regular monument. A contract, valid for a determined period of time (often between 25 and 100 years), formalizes the purchase of the space including the maintenance of the columbarium. Prices may vary from one space to another, depending on the length of the concession, the layout and maintenance, and the appearance, size, accessibility and location of the niche.

In short, columbariums may be private or public and of various sizes. They have a fixed number of hours when they are accessible. True places of peace and serenity, columbariums allow you to visit your dearly departed in a pleasant environment, conducive to meditation. Ask our Crématorium Montréal advisors for more information about our facilities, our columbariums and the options available to you or your loved one.

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