The Fountain of Faith – Falls Church, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

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The Fountain of Faith

National Funeral Home & National Memorial Park

These figures float and flutter in this fountain crafted by famed Swedish sculptor Carl Milles. 


The Fountain of Faith is one of two major works created by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles found in the National Memorial Cemetery in Falls Church, Virginia

This massive, expansive fountain sits in a large courtyard, which contains numerous memorials and consists of 37 figures who are said to evoke specific individuals Milles knew before they died. It was his vision of heaven on earth. 

The concept for this complex work of art originated from a request by Robert F. Marlowe, founder of National Memorial Park, for Milles to create a “fountain embodying his personal belief and philosophy of life after death.” 

Milles responded to the challenge by creating individual portraits of people he had known in life, including a boy who died trying to rescue a bird, a family of three that perished in a Paris car accident, a wise old man who lived in a grotto in the mountains of France, siblings making celestial connections, and mothers reunited with children. This last depiction was particularly personal for Milles, who lost his own mother at the age of four.

The piece is considered Milles’s masterwork and its dedication in 1952 drew a crowd of some 25,000 people to celebrate the completion of a project that took 12 years.

Know Before You Go

The fastest way to access the fountain after driving into the entrance to the park on Lee Highway is to turn left, where the drive forks, and proceed until you see the sign and fountain on the left.

The sign at the entrance at the top of the stairs that lead down to the fountain bears the following message:

"In these sculptured figures of the Fountain of Faith, Carl Milles, the great Swedish sculptor, has captured the warmth and tenderness, the joy and strength of supreme love in all human relationships. Rising above the limits of this world, the beauty and hope of reunion after life is here perpetuation in bronze to give us infinite peace.

The Fountain of Faith makes us see that we do not walk alone...that we'll have a part in the bigger scheme of things. Let these figures in this Fountain of Faith remind us that faith is not just for holy days but that faith is for every day. A quiet moment before this great work of art can make us draw closer together, and grant us tranquility for this the Fountain of Faith." -- National Memorial Park

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