Monument Rules & Regulations

TABLE OF CONTENTS (view Marker Rules)

    1. Family upright monuments have been a part of cemeteries in some fashion since the beginning of cemeteries and in Catholic Cemeteries they are intended not only to commemorate and mark the burial place of those interred but to visually portray the teachings and beliefs of our Christian faith. Today upright monuments primarily take the form of above ground memorials, generally in granite, on which one or more family names are placed. They may, depending on design, make provision for individual names on some portion of the memorial.
    2. The most distinctive feature of an upright monument is that it is raised above ground level, as against individual grave markers which are set at lawn level. In the massive renovation programs conducted by Catholic Cemeteries, this distinction is important. The upright monument is not particularly defined by size or shape but by function. Its function is to memorialize the burial place of a particular family, the individual members of which may or may not be memorialized by lawn level markers as well.
    1. Certain lots in nearly all cemeteries are specifically subdivided or "zoned" to permit monuments, and these lots have certain definite characteristics:
      1. THEY MAY NOT BE LESS THAN FOUR GRAVES. Normal subdivision today will provide four graves in a row. In certain older subdivisions, the lot plan may call for "two up and two down" and where this latter subdivision exists, monuments are still permitted there. The purpose of the minimum size requirement is both aesthetic and practical. If monuments are to be set off attractively they must be spaced reasonably and properly. Additionally, when above ground structures are too closely placed, they prevent movement of equipment necessary to make burials and provide maintenance for a cemetery.
      2. THEY HAVE BEEN SPECIFICALLY PLATTED AS MONUMENT LOTS and include added space for the erection of a monument. The holding of four or more graves in itself does not give a monument privilege. The privilege is limited only to areas where monuments have been approved and where space is provided for monument installation.
    2. These limitations are reflected in the purchase price of a monument lot which is somewhat higher than comparable marker graves because of the greater amount of space required for a monument lot, and the greater maintenance cost in caring for a monument area.
    3. Only one monument is permitted on a monument lot and this is installed in the space designated by the cemetery.
    4. Existing platted monument lots may not be re-subdivided without the specific approval of the Director, Cemetery Services.
    5. Beyond the minimum requirements of four graves, monument lots may be subdivided into larger units such as six, eight, sixteen graves, etc. Lots may be sold only as subdivided. However, where a family, for example, may acquire a four grave monument lot and add a further number of graves to the holding, the addition of marker type graves does not change the location of the monument on the lot or the permitted size of the monument, unless the subdivision plan specifically allows this variance.
    6. Raised markers of any type are not permitted as monuments since this type of stone results in hazards during winter operations or when visibility is limited.
    7. In many subdivisions, individual grave markers are not permitted on monument lots. Individual names are placed on the monument itself. The purpose of this rule is to avoid the addition of unnecessary stonework as well as the additional maintenance such stonework required. Also, because of space limitations, unnecessary placement of markers on an upper tier of graves can prevent use of the planting or decorating space in front of the monument.
    8. In those instances where markers are allowed to be placed in connection with a monument, they must harmonize with the monument in terms of material, design, color, and finish.
    1. Just as zoning ordinances relate the size of permitted improvements to the size of the building lot, so does the size of the monument lot determine the size of the monument. The basic rule on monument size is that the square foot total of the front face of the monument may not exceed 15% of the square foot area of the lot. The front face measurement includes all portions of the monument - base, die, wings, or other additions. Each of these should be computed separately where there are distinct size differentials, and then added together to obtain the total permitted size of the monument. Except for an unusual design, 30" shall be the minimum height of a monument, 8" shall be the minimum thickness of a die stone and 8” shall be the minimum height of the base.
    2. The design of the monument is entirely optional since it automatically relates itself to the permitted front face measurement. A taller monument tends automatically to be slenderer; a shorter monument tends to be wider. The front face area of a monument is subject to these width limitations:
      1. ON SINGLE TIER LOTS – width of the monument is limited to one-half the width of the lot up to the maximum of eight feet.
      2. ON MULTIPLE TIER LOTS – width of the monument is limited to two-thirds of the width of the lot up to a maximum of eight feet on interior lots, and up to a maximum of twelve feet on roadside lots or as specified in the administrative memorandum governing a particular section. Individual consideration is given to roadside lots in excess of twenty-four feet in width.

        If additional marker graves are purchased on the back side of the monument, the monument may be inscribed on both sides. These graves must be equal to the number of graves purchased on the front side. This additional purchase does not alter the size of the monument that was determined at the time of the initial selection.

    1. Material of monuments is generally limited to a first-grade memorial granite of high density and low porosity. All types of granite that so qualify are permitted, except where in certain sections of certain cemeteries, a color or type limitation was established when the section was opened. In general, no new sections of this type are opened today, but recognition of the limitations remains in existing sections where the existing stonework has followed the long established rule.
    2. Marble is one type of memorial stone that is specifically prohibited. The characteristics of marble make it unsuitable for outdoor use in our climate, particularly in terms of holding an inscription.
    3. Other types of materials are not specifically prohibited but are not encouraged. Occasionally, the characteristics of these materials may lend themselves to a particular use in a monument, and various of these materials are used from time to time in cemetery features. The difference is that the cemeteries have the means of providing continuing maintenance to counteract any deficiencies these materials may prove to have. In the case of an individual upright memorial, first grade memorial granite is the most certain lasting material, susceptible of the least damage, undergoing the least change, and requiring the least maintenance.
    4. Occasionally, materials may be mixed in a given monument. If the nature and design of the memorial calls for this, though not encouraged as a general rule, it would be permitted. In this connection, monuments which include designs or features of differing granites bonded to each other are acceptable if the inserts of attachments are self-supporting or doweled and can be expected to remain in place in the event of failure of the bond. Other processes such as pressure bonding of granite features in a monument are considered on an individual basis, and subject to suitable guarantees to insure replacement in the event of failure. Mixing of materials also must be adequately protected against varying coefficients of expansion.
    5. Where metals may be used, they must be finished in a manner and with a sealer that will minimize the possibility of staining the stone of the memorial.
    1. The purpose of the memorial regulations is both to provide certain protections for the cemetery and the lot holder, and to provide quality monument design. This latter is to some extend a matter of taste and aesthetics but it remains the desire of Catholic Cemeteries to make as certain as possible that the permanent character of monuments be supported by quality workmanship rather than minimal acceptable standards. The following guidelines on finishes are to be applied to all new monuments.
      1. It is desirable that die stones and monoliths be fully finished except where the design of the monument incorporates substantial use of rock finish to achieve a particular effect. The fully finished die stone creates a more effective memorial in terms of total appearance.
      2. Similarly, it is desirable but not mandatory that base stones have a 1" finish top margin on all sides.
      3. Rock finish is strongly encouraged on all bases. If the vertical surface of the base is to be used for inscription of names, obviously this must be modified. However, even in these instances, builders should try and provide a rock finish below such names. Experience and visual evidence clearly indicate that a fully finished base has two practical limitations.
        1. Staining, dirt streaking and discoloration become quickly apparent on a fully finished base, particularly in the front if planting of decorations is done by the family.
        2. Mechanized equipment doing mowing and close trimming can occasionally damage a base. Such damage is insignificant visually when at least the lower portion of the base is rock finish.
      4. If a base stone is fully finished, all vertical edges must be rounded at least 3/8" to limit potential damage.
      5. Rock finished on bases should be limited to a less than 2" protrusion beyond the vertical surface of the finished margin of the base.
    2. To provide for maximum artistic and creative expression in memorials, there is wide latitude on finishes other than the few existing situations where a given section in a given cemetery might have some special requirements on color or finish. It is recommended, however, that hammered, stippled or similar rougher finishes be used on granites where porosity may be slightly higher than the optimum. When polished, steeled or finely finished, the appearance of such granites have a tendency to become streaked or dirty looking after a few years.
    1. Where a base and die stone are used to create a monument, the following guidelines shall be used in terms of wash requirements.
      1. Where the width of the total monument exceeds the height, the end washes should be approximately 1 1/2" for every 1' of the width of the die stone.
      2. Where the height of the total monument exceeds the width, the end washes should be approximately 1" for every 1' of the height of the die stone.
      3. Front and back washes should be approximately 1/3 the thickness of the die stone, but sufficient to inscribe names if that is desired by the family.
    2. Wash relationships obviously can vary with design, and exceptions to these norms will be permitted with supporting reasons for the exception.
    1. Attachments that are not an integral part of the monument design are generally prohibited.
      1. Ceramic pictures are permitted on new installations of memorials.
      2. Video and audio attachments are not permitted on Monuments
      The following statement should be typed onto the F-ticket for the family’s foundation fee:

      “Catholic Cemeteries are not responsible for bronze lettering or art work used on upright memorials. Please review your homeowner’s insurance policy regarding these memorials.”

    2. Catholic Cemeteries exist as an extension of the Catholic faith. Religious symbolism has always been an integral part of that faith - even at the cemetery. If the prominent religious symbol on a monument is an attachment, another etched religious symbol must also be present. If the attached religious symbol is removed for ulterior reasons, the etched religious symbol will remain.
    3. Stone vases, and/or urns designed and planned as part of the monument are permitted but not encouraged. They are vandalism and accident prone. Because such items are often eliminated with the passage of time, the design of the monument should be such that removal of the vases or urns will not distort the appearance of the monument.
    4. Although not encouraged, bronze lettering may be used on a monument to identify the family surname. If this is done the following statement should be typed onto the F-ticket for this family’s foundation fee:

      “Catholic Cemeteries are not responsible for bronze lettering or art work used on upright memorials. Please review your homeowner’s insurance policy regarding these memorials.”

    1. Coloring additives are generally not permitted on stonework. While they may temporarily highlight or provide contrast on a stone, their life is not the life of the stone, and they act only as a substitute for more permanent forms of workmanship. The following rules govern additives:
      1. Neutral tone additives may be used to shadow incised lettering or carving provided this is not a substitute of the proper depth of carving. They may also be used to create an even appearance when new lettering may be added to an existing memorial.
      2. Color tone additives, including black and white, may not be used in any fashion on a memorial unless the monument application includes a written guarantee from the monument builder specifying the life of the additive and guaranteeing to replace or refinish the stone if the additive fails within the specified life. Awareness of the length of the guarantee must be acknowledged by the signature of the lot holder.
    1. There are no limitations as to the type and style of lettering that may be used, other than being properly proportioned to the size of the monument. Incised lettering is preferred and must be cut to a minimum depth of 1/4", except for lettering 3/4" or less in height. Raised lettering tends to retain dirt deposits and can result in a streaky effect on the stone below it.
    1. The work of Catholic Cemeteries is essentially a religious work, established by the laws of the Catholic Church, included in the liturgy of the Church, and serving a specific purpose of our faith. As such, it is expected that all texts, symbolism, and inscription used on memorials shall be religious in character, and be drawn from the liturgy, Sacred Scripture, prayers, and similar recognized sources. These offer an infinite variety of choice. At the very least, it is required that any text or symbolism placed carry some connotation of Christian belief, and be in no way contradictory to such belief. While there may be occasional situations involving an individual grave marker for a non-Catholic family member, the family monument should reflect the community of belief which is the basis for a Catholic cemetery.
    2. The religious symbolism must be a focal point of the monument ornamentation and not disguised or minimized in other ornamentation.
    3. Personal identification other than names, which in some way symbolizes or reflects the life style of the deceased, is not prohibited, but it should be done in good taste and should not carry a more prominent role on the monument than religious text or symbolism. Approval of this type of symbolism can only be given by the Director, Cemetery Services. On some monuments, a likeness of the deceased is etched into the monument. This must not exceed 10" x 10" on the die of the monument. While we do not desire to see the family memorials become totally impersonal, their role and existence in the cemetery is somewhat comparable to cemetery features themselves - the statement and reminder of religious values. Extensive personal eulogies should be avoided.
    4. Only the full Baptismal, Christian or legal name of those buried in the lot may be inscribed on the monument.
      1. Consideration may be given to the use of a derivative of a Baptismal, Christian or legal name, in conjunction with or in place of a Baptismal, Christian or legal name.

        E.G. James could be inscribed as James Jimmy Smith or as Jimmy Smith, Margaret Bathgate could be inscribed as Margaret Marge Bathgate or as Marge Bathgate.

        Any questionable inscriptions should be referred to the Director, Cemetery Services.

      2. Consideration may be given to so-called nicknames that are not offensive, obscene, derogatory or slang.

        However, these so-called nicknames shall not replace the Baptismal, Christian or legal name of the deceased or the derivative of the Baptismal, Christian or legal name of the deceased.

        E.G. If RED is the so-called nickname the inscription could read, James Red Smith or Jimmy Red Smith: if Sis is the so-called nickname the inscription could read, Margaret Sis Bathgate or Marge Sis Bathgate.

        Nicknames that are offensive, obscene, derogatory or slang are not permitted for use on a monument under any circumstances.

        Any questionable inscriptions should be referred to the Director, Cemetery Services.

    5. Where monuments are set at the lot line and/or the back surface faces over graves not owned by the monument lot holder, inscriptions of family names and/or Baptismal, Christian or legal names are not permitted.

      Consideration will be given to requests for inscription of religious texts and/or religious symbolism on the back surface of a monument. Requests for this type of inscription work must be forwarded to the Director, Cemetery Services for approval.

    1. Nearly all family monuments being placed in Catholic Cemeteries are going into sections of relatively recent design, and as such these rules are universally applicable, with the exception of the rules on Finishes as noted in section 5. Occasionally a monument may be going into a very old section, and in these relatively rare cases exceptions may also be considered for good reason. The consideration will generally be dependent on the character and nature of other family monuments in the immediate area.
    2. Exceptions will be considered also for monuments of an original and unique design which might in certain respects not be in complete conformance to all stated specifications.
    1. Before a monument may be installed in a cemetery, a completed Monument Application (Form8A) Revised, (see MAN320.1 (14 & 15)) must be presented to the cemetery for approval, together with payment of the appropriate foundation charge. Refer to MAN140.2 (14) for the current foundation fee per square foot. The chart of MAN320.1 (17) will assist in determining the majority of foundation fees.
    2. Approval of an application requires the specification sketch and all information be fully completed and that it be signed by the lot holder or heirs and the memorial dealer.
    3. If the proposed memorial includes attachments or additives, a replacement guarantee must be provided which is to be specifically acknowledged on the application by a separate signature of the lot holder or heirs.
    4. When the Monument Application is approved, the cemetery will issue a receipt covering the payment of the foundation charge to the memorial dealer. The receipt should be stamped with a rubber stamp in red ink stating: 'Upon delivery of a memorial, a visual inspection of the memorial shall be made at the cemetery office before it is taken to the gravesite by the memorial dealer. All memorials are subject to a final inspection upon setting.' Returned to the memorial dealer with the receipt is a copy of the Monument Application on which a sketch of the lot and existing burials will be noted.
    5. Acceptance of payment indicates approval of the application; however, approval of the monument is subject to inspection upon delivery, and after installation in the cemetery. Where the Monument Application is not approved, it shall be returned to the memorial builder with a copy of Memorial Application Return (Form8F) (see MAN320.1 (16)) indicating reasons for non-acceptance.
    1. Monument applications shall be retained for a period of five years following the year in which they were processed.
    2. Cemetery Managers should use discretion in unusual cases regarding retention of monument applications beyond the specified period above. For example, in cases where the monument was of a distinctive design; where special material or fabrication processes were used; and where questions or complications had arisen regarding heirship or authorization, retention of the monument application for a longer period or even permanently in the document file might be indicated.
    1. All foundations for monuments are installed by the cemetery, and the foundation order is issued after the Monument Application has been received and approved. Foundations are installed between April 1st and November 15th, but may from time to time be extended subject to weather and ground conditions. Spring orders received prior to May 10th are generally completed for Memorial Day. Memorial builders are notified when foundation orders are completed.
    2. The memorial builder is responsible for erection of the monument in accordance with the requirements and conditions set forth in the Monument Application and shall use such techniques and procedures as will insure maximum permanence of the installation.
    3. Delivery of monuments for inspection and installation is limited to the regular working hours of the cemetery Monday through Friday. Delivery should be avoided if possible between 10:30 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. so as not to interfere with funeral service activity. Monument installation work in the proximity of a funeral service should be discontinued until the service has been concluded.
    4. Monument builders or their agents involved in placement of lettering on memorials must submit Lettering Application Permit (Form8E) (see MAN320.2 (8)) before lettering work is performed.
    1. Lot and block number shall be inscribed on the left vertical surface of every monument twelve inches above the bottom edge of the monument or on the wash surface of a monument with a base. Letters or numerals should be 3/4" in size and incised to 1/4". They should be centered on the left surface, and if placed on a wash, should be as close to the base edge as possible. Segments of description such as "N" or "W" should be omitted.
    1. Seals if used must be placed on the end vertical surface of the monument and may not be more than 1 1/2" square.
    1. A monument may not be erected on any lot until the lot involved has been paid for in full; or, on an old lot, until annual care charges, if applicable, are current. This would be applicable also to Shared Family Memorials erected by the cemetery to the extent that full payment is required prior to any family or individual inscriptions being made on the memorial. However, the monument application may be accepted and the foundation installed under the following conditions:
      1. Payments have been and are current at the time the application is submitted, and totals at least 75% of the total lot cost.
      2. On monument lots with the OCS option an amount equal to the value of the grave price times the number of monument graves must be paid in prior to the erection of a monument.
      3. Once a monument is erected on the lot, the amount needed to be paid in for a burial on a monument lot with the OCS option is equal to the total grave price plus the OCS package price for each burial.
    2. If the application is submitted and accepted under the above conditions, the memorial dealer is to be advised that the acceptance of the permit is not to be construed as permission to deliver and install the memorial until the balance on the lot has been paid. The following notation should also be entered on the monument application and the F-Ticket:


      Specific information on the status of each lot will be provided at the time a monument application is submitted, and if there is any limitation regarding the acceptance of the application or the erection of the monument the family should be contacted by the cemetery.

    3. It is expected that a monument builder will make his own financial arrangements with each family he serves. In the event of a payment problem between a monument builder and a family, the cemetery limits itself to sending a letter to the family upon written request of the memorial builder, advising the family that the builder intends to seek removal of the monument by legal action unless payment is received.
    4. Memorial builders are subject to the rules and regulations of the cemeteries both in terms of time of work and of operational procedures. Section or other damage because of failure to observe reasonable precautions must be at the expense of memorial builders to repair. Heavy equipment entering sections must use protective boards to avoid lawn damage.
    5. Once a monument is erected in the cemetery, it may not be removed without permission of the cemetery or a court order.
    1. Monuments are the personal property of the individuals who erect them, and the cemetery assumes no liability for their care and maintenance unless a specific agreement has been set up to provide this. Cemetery insurance does not cover privately owned memorials, and damage to memorials as a result of vandalism and acts of God are the responsibility of the individual owner.
    2. Where minor damage from unknown sources takes place, the cemetery may where possible make or arrange some suitable repair, both as a courtesy to the lot holder and in the interests of maintaining aesthetically attractive appearance. In the case of serious vandalism, involving damage to monuments, the cemetery will notify the affected lot holders, if addresses are on file, and where possible, will temporarily re-position the stone. If lot holders subsequently fail to make permanent repairs, the cemetery will dispose of the stone.
    3. Occasionally, stonework becomes hazardous because of loosening of parts or tipping. In such instances, the family will be notified to arrange for necessary repairs. Where this not possible, the cemetery will make what safety adjustments may be necessary, or if impossible to repair will dispose of the stone.

    Private mausoleums and sarcophagi have specific rules governing their erection, including submission of design plans by the cemetery to a registered architect. Since the placement of these memorials is infrequent, detailed rules are not covered herein. The memorial builder should check directly with the cemetery in these cases.

    Questions regarding these regulations and requests for consideration in the case of exceptions should be directed to the Director, Cemetery Services.