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A Clever Magazine Investigation:

The Lion of Lucerne
by Diannek

Snoozing lion

Several months ago we received the following email from one of our readers. It has taken us several more months to figure out what she might have been referring to. What follows just might be it. Here's the email we received: 

To: Editor, Clever Magazine
Subject: Lion

We were in Europe last fall and we saw a lion in Switzerland and it had a story to it and was wondering where I would look to find that story. Thanks for any information you can provide..
Sincerely Agnes G... "Love with a smile"

Dear Agnes: It has taken us some time to figure out the answer to your rather puzzling question. I think the lion you are referring to might be the one called the "Lion of Lucerne." At one of the Gates to Lucerne, Switzerland, there is a sanctuary with a huge rock, and carved into the face of the rock is a dying stone lion, which pays tribute to the Swiss Guard. Apparently, the guards were hired by Louis XVI to defend his palace during the time of the French Revolution.

Update: Here's another email we recently received about this lion: The picture and words you use do not come close to doing justice to the monument, which Mark Twain, in his book A Tramp Abroad, described as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world."

Here's what Encarta has to say about the guard:

Swiss Guard, papal guard of the Vatican in Rome, formed about 1505 by Pope Julius II. It consists of 6 officers and 110 men. Only Swiss can enter the guard, and the privates are not allowed to marry. The men wear colorful uniforms that were supposedly designed by Michelangelo. The institution of the Swiss Guard dates from the time, between the 15th and the 18th centuries, when Swiss mercenaries were a prized fighting force in the armies of Europe. The most famous of these were the Swiss guards in the French army, who defended the Tuileries Palace in Paris against insurgent forces on August 10, 1792, during the French Revolution. About 500 of their number were slain, but their heroism was commemorated in 1821 by a great sculptured lion outside one of the gates of Lucerne, Switzerland, cut out of rock after a model by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.

"Swiss Guard," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2000
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved

Clever Magazine has been investigating lion statues for years. If you're interested, 
here's the list of articles on the subject so far:

The Investigation begins ~ main page
The Lion of Lucerne ~ the Swiss lion
Lions in Paris ~ Paris photo essay
Confederate Memorial Lion ~ a memorial to Confederate soldiers
Timmie's Lion Obsession, a photo essay

If you have any lion photos or information to share, we'd love to hear from you. 
Contact editor@clevermag.com


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