Yesterday, 38 new Swiss Guard recruits entered the Courtyard of San Damaso inside the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace to take their oath of loyalty.
The ceremony is normally held on May 6th honoring the 147 Swiss Guard who gave their lives protecting Pope Clement VII. This year’s ceremony was postponed, however, because of the pandemic.
One by one, each recruit approached the flag with Pope Francis’ insignia, raised three fingers as testament to Faith in the Trinity, and took the oath:
“I swear to faithfully, loyally and honorably serve the reigning pontiff and his legitimate successors, to dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing, if necessary, even my life in their defense. I assume the same duties toward the College of Cardinals during the Apostolic See’s absence. I promise also to the Commander and other superiors respect, loyalty and obedience. This I swear. May God and our patron saints assist me.”
Swiss Guard Chaplain Thomas Widmer asked the new recruits to live their time of service to the pope with a sense of friendship and fraternity:
“When you think about your uniform, think about friendship, and when you wear it, thank God for the friendships you build, and pray that they can continue to grow. Friendship grows through concrete acts of charity, availability and listening.”
Read what Pope Francis said to the new recruits and their parents prior to the swearing-in ceremony last Friday:
Dear officers and members of the Swiss Guard!
I am pleased to meet you on this festive day of yours. I extend a cordial greeting to the new recruits who, following the example of many of their fellow countrymen, have chosen to devote a period of their youth to the service of the Successor of Peter. The presence of your family members expresses the devotion of Swiss Catholics to the Holy See, as well as the moral education and good example with which their parents have passed on to their children the Christian faith and the sense of generous service to their neighbour. My grateful greeting also goes to the representatives of the Foundation for the Pontifical Swiss Guard.
Today offers me the opportunity to remember the illustrious past of your Corps. My thoughts turn, in particular, to the “Sack of Rome”, in which the Swiss Guards courageously defended the Pope, to the point of giving their lives. The memory of that event may evoke in you the danger of spiritual “plundering”. In today’s social context, many young people run the risk of being denuded of their souls when they follow ideals and lifestyles that respond only to material desires or needs.
My wish is that your stay in Rome will be a favourable time to make the most of the positive things this city has to offer. It is rich in history, culture and faith, so take advantage of the opportunities offered to you to enhance your cultural, linguistic and spiritual background. The time you will spend here is a unique moment in your life: may you live it in a spirit of fraternity, helping each other to lead a life rich in meaning and joyfully Christian.
The oath you will take the day after tomorrow is also a declaration of fidelity to your baptismal vocation, that is, to Christ, who calls you to be men and Christians, agents of your existence. With His help and with the power of the Holy Spirit, you will serenely face the obstacles and challenges of life. Do not forget that the Lord is always by your side: I sincerely hope that you will always be aware of His consoling presence.
I wish to take this opportunity to renew the expression of my gratitude to the entire Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps. And I thank you not only for what you do – which is a lot! – but also for how you do it. Saint Teresa of Calcutta said that at the end of our lives we will not be judged for how many things we have done, but for how much love we have put into those things.
I assure you of my prayer for all your good intentions; and you too, please pray for me. To all of you, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.”