Ideas for Catholic Headstone Inscriptions

carved headstone image by Rob Hill from

A headstone inscription, often known as an epitaph, is a short text that honours the person who is deceased. The headstone may be inscribed with an epitaph. Although some Catholics choose their own epitaphs, others are chosen by family or friends responsible for the burial.

Catholic headstone inscriptions may include a quote from the Bible, a saint or may focus on the virtues of the deceased.


A headstone inscription gives those remembering the deceased the ability to commemorate or remember the loved one. The tombstone helps to highlight the personality traits, accomplishments, close relationships and virtues of the deceased. However, in the past, headstone inscriptions often called upon a person's flaws, especially if they did not have bereaved family members.

Biblical Inscriptions

Headstone epitaphs often derive from Biblical passages that depict the deceased's life. For instance, if the deceased tended to the ill or was known for charity work, they may have an epitaph that depicts these virtues. Bible verse inscriptions often focus on the 23rd Psalm, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." New Testament inscriptions often include Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" or Philippians 1:3, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."

Quotes from the Saints

A Catholic headstone inscription may focus on a quote from a saint whom the deceased had a strong devotion to or even their patron saint. Quotes from saints that are inscribed on headstones often focus on qualities of the soul, such as being patient or humble, the importance of prayer or a specific spirituality, such as Carmelite, Benedictine or another spiritual devotion in the Church. Popular Catholic inscriptions from saints include St. Francis of Assisi's prayer,' "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace."

Personalised Headstone Inscription

A personalised headstone inscription can demonstrate how a Catholic chose to live his life and helps remind the viewer of the deceased. This may include a specific phrase that the deceased used on a regular basis or may even have a humorous message.


When choosing a headstone inscription, keep in mind that headstones with longer epitaphs also carry a higher price tag. Some cemeteries have limits on headstones, including the epitaph, so it is important to speak with a funeral coordinator or cemetery director about their requirements before purchasing a headstone.