In 2011, in two long blog entries, I described my research and opinion on the religious martyr worship of soldiers killed in World War II in Edinburgh and Tokyo. During my travels, I encounter similar phenomena time and again, so also most recently during my inaugural visit to the Canadian Government’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom when I climbed the Peace Tower of the Canadian Parliament.
Here also Bible verses, praying angels (photo 1), Christian martyr language for killed soldiers. In the center the golden book with the names of those killed in action of the First World War on an altar, draped like a Bible (photo 2). And at all four corners angels are praying in the direction of the book. Above everything Christ is enthroned as judge of the earth.
The 302 feet (92 meter) high Tower of Victory and Peace (“Tour de la Victoire et de la Pax”), a bell and clock tower in the center of the long facade of the Canadian Parliament (photo 3 + 4), was placed in the center of the Canadian Parliament in 1927, which had been rebuilt in 1916-1920 after a fire of the previous building.
The tower was also built to commemorate the Canadians who were killed or died in World War I. Therefore there is a 24 ft x 24 ft “Memorial Chamber” (photo 5) with colored leaded windows, as in a church.
The centre of this ‘chapel’ is an altar (photo 6) on which a golden book with the names of 66,655 fallen Canadian World War I soldiers of killed in action is placed, guarded by four praying angels at the corners of the altar (photo 1). The altar is called “The Altar of Remembrance”. The website of the Memorial Chamber explains: “The inscription along the circumference of the upper section of the altar is from John Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress from this World to that Which is to Come’ whose character Mr. Valiant-for-Truth states: ‘My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles, who now will be my Rewarder; so he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side’.”
Slightly offset above the altar there hangs an artistically designed cross, as in a church, underneath which one passes when entering the chapel (photo 7 + 8).
In the Golden Book (photo 2) and six other books in the room, which lie on six smaller altars arranged in a semicircle at the wall, all members of the army, air force and fleet of the Canadian armed forces from 1867 until today who died in foreign wars, i.e. before and since Canada’s independence in 1931, are listed by name. These include Nile expeditions as well as the Korean War. Since 1942, every morning at 11 a.m., each book is scrolled down one page in a ceremony. Only 5 civilians can take part in the ceremony. In addition, all animals that died in the service of the crown, horses, dogs, pigeons etc. are remembered. In the centre of the room, however, are the Canadian soldiers killed in action during World War I.
Then there is “The Recording Angel”, an angel who writes down the names of those who have sacrificed their lives for their country, reminding the angels and the books in the last book of the Bible.
The main window of the room opposite the entrance is called “The Assembly of Remembrance” (photo 9). It shows how saints and warriors capture and guard the names of those killed in action. The website explains: “The upper figures are of St. Michael (warrior angel), St. George (patron saint of England), Justice and Joan of Arc (representing French Canada). The lower figures are of Roman and medieval military figures standing guard over the Chamber. Canada is represented by a heroic female in armour holding a wreath of victory; motherhood is represented by a further female figure; First Nations peoples are represented by a native warrior.”
About half of the sayings and verses in the other windows are from the Bible, namely the following:
- „Thanks be to God who gives us the victory“ (from 1. Corinthians 15:57)
- „Faith unto Death“ und „Acquit Ye like men be strong“ (both from 1. Corinthians 16:13)
- „He makes wars to cease“ (from Psalm 46:9)
- „Judgement shall return to righteousness“ (Psalm 94:15)