A columbarium is designed to store cremated remains. The word columbarium comes from the Italian word “Columba” which means dove and originally referred to compartment housing for pigeons and doves Today’s structure is often a ground or wall structure made of brick, stone, marble or granite into which urns are housed. In some cases it is accompanied by seating areas that allow visitors a place to sit for reflection.
Historically churches were the primary site of columbaria. For example, many Catholic cathedrals have them. In Rome they were frequently located completely or partly underground. One of the more noted examples is the Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas which is rich with decorations, frescoes, and precious mosaics.
Other better known columbaria include the Los Angeles California in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. There many columbaria exist within the mausoleum that has been built into the church.
What makes columbaria so popular in Catholic churches is their function as a way to entomb or bury one’s cremated remains. Under any other circumstance, cremations per se are not the traditional custom.
Columbaria are also found in many Buddhist temples where the deceased remains are located in order family members and others to visit the temple for traditional memorials and ancestor rites.
Along with churches they can also be part of the mausoleum. Good examples of innovative columbaria include a Neo-Byzantine structure designed in 1849 and located in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the largest graveyard in Paris, France and London’s Golders Green Crematorium where three columbaria contain the ashes of thousands of Londoners and others.
Today public cemeteries include columbaria that might be freestanding or part of a large, public mausoleum. In many cases they offer an alternative to in-ground burial and can be viewed as an eco-friendly option that conserves space.
The above image is our Angel Columbarium. Give us a call to see more of our options