Pope: Swiss Guards' Uniforms Speak of Commitment
Thanks Corps for "Serving the Servant of God's Servants"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 5, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is praising the Swiss Guard for their commitment to serving God by serving Christ's Vicar.
The Pope spoke to 33 new recruits of the guard today, accompanied by their families and other members of the corps. The new recruits will be sworn in Tuesday.
May 6 is the traditional swearing-in day for new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard because on that day in 1527, some 150 members of the Swiss Guard lost their lives during the sack of Rome, protecting Pope Clement VII and the Church from the onslaught of Emperor Charles V's troops.
In the Holy Father's address, delivered in German, French and Italian, he pointed out how, five centuries after the foundation of the corps, "the spirit of faith that encourages young Swiss to leave their beautiful land to come and serve the Pope in the Vatican remains unchanged."
"The love for the Catholic Church remains the same, to which you bear witness, rather than with words, with your bodies, which -- thanks to the characteristic uniforms -- are easily recognizable at the entrance to the Vatican and to pontifical audiences," he added. "Your historic uniforms speak [...] of your commitment to serve God by serving the 'servant of his servants.'"
"Always cultivate prayer and spiritual life, also by taking advantage of the crucial presence of your chaplain," he encouraged them. "Be open, straightforward and loyal. Learn how to appreciate the differences of personality and character that exist among you, because under the uniform each one is a unique and irreplaceable person called by God to serve his Kingdom of love and peace."
The Swiss Guard, the Pope affirmed, "is also a school of life," and he noted how during their period of service in the Vatican "many of your predecessors were able to discover their own vocation: to Christian marriage, to the priesthood, to consecrated life. This is a reason to praise God, but also to appreciate your corps."
The Holy Father concluded by thanking all members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard for the "generosity and dedication with which you work in the service of the Pope. May the Lord reward you and fill you with abundant heavenly fruits."
The 33 new recruits will be sworn in as members of the Pontifical Swiss Guards in the presence of members of the Roman Curia, diplomatic representatives and civil and religious authorities from Switzerland. Twenty will take their oath in German, 11 in French, one in Italian and one in Romansch.
The Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded by Pope Julius II in 1506 as a stable corps, directly dependant on the Holy See. Its main duties were to guard the person of the Roman Pontiff and the Apostolic Palaces.
To become a guard, one must be a Swiss Catholic male under the age of 30, unmarried, over 174 cm (5' 8") in height and with a professional diploma or high school degree. The candidate must have attended Swiss military school. Guards live inside Vatican City. The minimum term of service is 25 months.