ST. GEORGE – A candlelight healing ceremony dedicated to honoring children who have predeceased their parents will take place Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the southwest lawn at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 N. Bluff St. in St. George.
The program, entitled the “Christmas Box Angel,” is a nationally recognized and observed ceremony that takes place on the same day and at the same time each year.
Parents who have lost children – whether they were youths or adult children – and members of the community are invited to come to a brief program that will feature a musical number and a short address. After the address, parents are invited to place a white flower at the base of the angel statue that sits on the southwest lawn of the mortuary.
The Christmas Box Angel ceremony has its roots in the widely acclaimed novel written by Utah author Richard Paul Evans known as “The Christmas Box.” In the story, a woman grieves the loss of her child by visiting a statue described as a childlike angel with wings outstretched and the word “hope” written on its right wing.
After the success of the book and subsequent television movie, stories started to surface that grieving parents were seeking out the angel statue also known as the “Angel of Hope,” Diane Jennings, co-founder of the St. George “Christmas Box Angel” ceremony, said.
When the stories reached Evans, the author decided to have an angel statue commissioned matching the description of the one in the book. In 1994 the statue was placed in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Today over 120 re-creations of the statue exist across the nation and in some parts of the world, Jennings said.
The statue in St. George was the 36th such monument to be placed and is a direct result of Jennings wanting to do something productive to mourn the loss of her own children. Jennings has lost two daughters in her lifetime, she said.
“It’s a group you don’t want to be part of,” Jennings said, “but you have to live with it.”
The first Christmas Box Angel ceremony in St. George took place Dec. 6, 2002, and has continued ever since.
The ceremony provides parents the opportunity to sit down quietly and remember their child and celebrate their life, Jennings said, adding that it is an opportunity to release the tears so grieving parents can make it through the holiday season.
“Our goal is to provide comfort and a way to get through the Christmas season,” Jennings said, “because frankly, it’s really, really difficult.”
The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. and will start with a nondenominational prayer followed by a musical number performed by Jessica Kreitzer and a brief address by Leanne Phillips.
Candles and white flowers will be provided to parents wishing to pay tribute to their children, Jennings said.
Following the healing ceremony, parents are encouraged to greet one another and find solace in shared grief. However, Jennings added, that is not a requirement.
- What: “Christmas Box Angel” ceremony.
- When: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m.
- Where: Spilsbury Mortuary southwest lawn, 110 N. Bluff St., St. George.
- Admission: Free; all are invited.
Email: [email protected]
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