Unknown Soldiers of Christ

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!

We have just concluded our time in Athens, Greece and recently arrived in Rome. The final monument we visited in Athens before we departed was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial honoring all of the Greek soldiers who died in service to their country. It is guarded 24/7 by two Evzones, specially trained and handpicked soldiers of the Presidential Guard of the Greek Armed Forces. They wear a traditional uniform consisting of a cap with a tassel, a kilt-like garment, stockings, and shoes with a big puffy ball at the toes and strut around in unique ceremonial fashion at specific times to honor those whom the monument commemorates and also to change guards. To be honest, it looked goofy to me, reminding me of roosters strutting around, but I nonetheless found myself being awestruck and completely captivated by the hypnotic ritual.  I deeply admired these men who have spent countless hours in training and practice in order to reverently honor the fallen soldiers, refusing to forget those who have given their lives for the country. Furthermore, these men don’t see it as burden to serve in this capacity in the Presidential Guard, but a privilege and lifelong honor. 

This made me think of all the unknown saints in heaven who are always praying for us. How often do I remember them? How often do I thank them for their intercession? 

Larry Curtis exploring the Acropolis in Athens. The Acropolis was a temple to the Greek goddess, Athena. It is located atop a hill in the center of Athens.
Thien Bui (Diocese of San Jose), proclaiming the passage of Acts 17, in front of the Areopogus, where St. Paul preached to the Epicureans and Stoics on the “unknown god.”

Athens also was the place of the Areopagus where St. Paul delivered the speech concerning the statue with the inscription, “to an unknown god” in Acts 17.  St. Paul used this monument as a tool to proclaim and make known the truth of Jesus Christ. His love and faith was so deep in Jesus Christ, he would later be beheaded in Rome for his convictions, our next destination. 

Upon arrival to Rome, I was struck by the 150 martyrs who overlook St. Peter’s Square. It truly reminded me that we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses.”

The left Colonnade in Saint Peter’s Square with statues of saints atop.
Jospeh Mick in St. Peter’s Square. In the background is seen the Basilica of St. Peter, the largest church in world, where St. Peter is buried under the main altar.

Entering St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time and seeing the innumerable images of the saints and learning that 148 popes are buried within further confirmed the reality of the communion of saints in the mystical body of Christ. It was truly breathtaking to behold the beauty and amount of intricate details put into making it look like a foretaste of what is to come.

The main nave of St. Peter’s. Sunday Mass was taking place at main altar during the visit.

Going from Athens to Rome, it was beautiful to reflect on the fact that we are never alone in Christ. We have a whole army of saints in heaven rooting for us. Let us never forget them. Let us be quick to seeking their heavenly aid. Let us give thanks for their constant love.

St. Peter, pray for us.

St. Paul, pray for us.

All you holy men and women in heaven, pray for us.

-Larry Curtis, Diocese of San Bernardino

Photo credits to Ryan Noorae (Diocese of Rockford) and Thanh Ho (Diocese of San Jose)

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