North Side of a Churchyard
The poor have a great objection to be buried on the north side of a churchyard. They seem to think only evil-doers should be there interred. Probably the chief reason is the want of sun. On the north side of Glasgow cathedral is shown the hangman's burial place.
There is, however, an ecclesiastical reason:- The east is God's side, where His throne is set; the west, man's side, the Galilee of the Gentiles; the south, the side of the “spirits made just” and angels, where the sun shines in his strength; the north, the devil's side, where Satan and his legion lurk to catch the unwary. Some churches have still a “devil's door” in the north wall, which is opened at baptisms and communions to let the devil out.
“As men die, so shall they arise, if in faith in the Lord, towards the south ... and shall arise in glory; if in unbelief ... towards the north, then are they past all hope.” —Coverdale Praying for the Dead.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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