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August Weenaas Weenaas Family Angel

Guardian Angel Watches Over Loved Ones

One of the enduring symbols of the holiday season is the angel, a spiritual being endowed with immortality who serves as a messenger between heaven and earth. That symbolism is one reason why angels are commonly used as grave markers. In addition to their role as messengers, angels are thought to serve as guardians of the graves, as guides to the afterlife and as reminders to living visitors to reflect on their own mortality.

There is only one large angel monument in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery, and she is an angel in mourning. Her face is turned to the side, and she is weeping. She is a reminder of earthly loss and the grief felt by bereaved family members and friends. The angel monument belongs to the Weenaas family.

August Weenaas was born in Norway, and he was ordained as a minister there. He immigrated to the United States in 1868, and relocated in Marshall, Wisconsin, where he was president and professor of theology at Augsburg Seminary (now Augsburg College. Augsburg Seminary was founded with two main objectives in mind. The first was to prepare pastors to minister to a growing Norwegian population. The second was to “spread enlightenment and general education among the Norwegian people in America.”

In 1872, Augsburg Seminary (now Augsburg College) moved to its current location in the West Bank neighborhood.

During a time when Reverend Weenaas experienced considerable professional success, he also suffered great personal loss. Valborg, his wife, died in September 1873, at the age of 37. A little over a year later, their eight and a-half year old daughter, also named Valborg, died from diphtheria. The following year another child, identified only as Babe Weenaas, but most likely their daughter, Ragna, died. In 1876, Reverend Weenaas returned to Norway.

In 1882, he returned to Minnesota with his second wife, Marie Weenaas, and several of their children. The family lived in Red Wing where Reverend Weenaas taught theology at the Red Wing Seminary. His second visit to the United States lasted three years. Two children, Gisles and Signa, from his second marriage died during those years and were brought to Minneapolis where they were buried with other family members.

In 1885, Reverend Weenaas and his family returned to Norway, but they left behind a beautiful and fitting reminder that their family was once here. The angel is located in Lot 53, Block M, in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery.

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