The Lion Monument

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer 

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11 NIV

Mark Twain referred to the massive stone carving in Lucerne, known as The Lion Monument, as “the saddest and most moving piece of rock I have ever seen.”

From the moment it comes into view, there is something gripping and poignant about the dying lion carved in the sandstone side of a former rock quarry. Even before I knew the story, the expression of grief—a mixture of pain and sadness and regret—on the lion’s face resonated with something deep within my heart.

The inscription above the lion translates: “To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss.”

Curious as to know what inspired such a moving monument and inscription, I did some research upon returning home.

In the eighteenth century, the Swiss upper class generated their income streams by enlisting young men as mercenaries to other countries. This is how nearly one thousand of these mercenaries, known as the Swiss Guard, came to be protecting the French monarchy of King Louis XVI at the time of the French Revolution.

On August 10, 1792, a mob of angry citizens numbering in the thousands overtook the royal castle. There were approximately seven hundred of the soldiers stationed there at the time. The king, hoping to placate the rioting crowd, ordered the Swiss Guard to lay down their weapons. The soldiers did not immediately obey, but continued fighting until their ammunition ran low. The King’s order became a death sentence for these men.

The carving of the dying lion has a wooden stake driven through his heart, but it also shows his paw lying protectively over the shield bearing the Fleur-de-lis of the French royalty.

The story behind this monument fascinates, moves and inspires me. But I couldn’t help but note the resemblance to me as a soldier in God’s Kingdom. Would loyalty and bravery be noted in an inscription about my life? I certainly hope I live in such a way that it would.

But I do know my King will never tell me to take off my armor or lay down my weapons. Not when I’m sitting in church. Not when I’m teaching Vacation Bible School. Not even when I’m in the midst of praise and worship at a Mercy Me concert. Never.

Our enemy does not quit. He is no respecter of battle lines or boundaries. And our King knows this.

Sure, the enemy may allow me periods of peace where I can get comfortable and overconfident–convince myself I’ve won. That’s the trap he uses to catch me without my armor on.

Flash forward from the massacre of the Swiss Guards to only a few decades later, and we find ourselves at the battle of the Alamo. When Santa Anna came to San Antonio in preparation for the siege of this small mission, he rode in under a black flag: take no prisoners. Even to surrender meant certain death.

Satan, too, rides under a black flag—the flag of no quarter.

The Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, “Put on the full armor of God so that you may take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” I haven’t yet found the verse that tells me to take it off this side of eternity.

What the Lion Monument can teach us about the armor of God – @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet) 

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: Each of the pieces of armor is important to us in battle. Which piece has meant the most to you when you have been under attack?

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