Peter Sammons reflects on one particular gravestone in Yorkshire.


As we wander through cemeteries they can sometimes be rather dismal places, often overgown, as though no one really cares. And always with the unspoken message that one day, this is here we shall all lie and, like our forebears we shall be largely forgotten.

My wife Joyce and I had some time to spare when visiting a village close to Harrogate last year. There are precious few gravestones that inspire a photograph, yet here we found precisely such. We do not typically “read” tombstones, but my eye rested on this one. See the heading image.

I have no idea whom was Mary Elizabeth Knowles who died in 1872, at just 27 years of age. Nor why she is the only person memorialized on her headstone – there is plenty of space for other family member names, but perhaps they moved to a different location and somehow the family bond was broken – who knows? But the epitaph atop her stone is arresting. I cannot think of a better way for a Believer to be remembered. Frankly, I’d like this on my gravestone!

“Mary Elizabeth, he beloved wife of Richard Knowles, of Morker, who exchanged mortality for life, April 30th, 1872”

Who exchanged mortality for life. What a truism! The Christian message and the wonderful Christian hope is that when we leave this mortal coil, providing we have received Jesus as Lord and as Saviour, so we shall slip the bonds that bind us here, and put on resurrected flesh that shall be our eternal home. So Mary Knowles’ epitaph “who exchanged mortality for life” could not be clearer, truer, nor economical with words.


John 3:16 

“For God thus loved the world. He gave his only Son, that whoever believes on him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Romans 6:23 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 17:3 

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 5:24 

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Matthew 25:46 

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Romans 10:13 

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

More Bible quotes here:



If readers want to explore this a little more, this short article will be of much help:

Praise God indeed! We can truly exchange mortality for life!