Pope Francis encourages new Swiss Guard recruits ‘to grow as Christians’

Pope Francis encourages new Swiss Guard recruits ‘to grow as Christians’

Pope Francis encourages new Swiss Guard recruits ‘to grow as Christians’.

Pope Francis with new Swiss Guard recruits in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on May 6, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 6, 2022 / 06:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday encouraged 36 new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard to “grow as Christians” during their service in Rome.

The pope, who currently has limited mobility due to a knee condition, met with the new candidates for the world’s smallest but oldest standing army on May 6, the day of their swearing-in ceremony.

He said: “Dear Swiss Guards, I encourage you to always place the proper emphasis on formation. The efforts devoted to it are indispensable for acquiring adequate skills and professional competence.”

“But first of all, the time spent in Rome should be valued in order to grow as Christians. I am thinking of the spiritual life, which allows us to discover God’s plan for each of us.”

The Swiss Guards — known for their colorful striped Renaissance-era uniforms — are responsible for Vatican security together with the Vatican gendarmes. The Vatican military was established by Pope Julius II in 1506.

Candidates must meet strict requirements. Each recruit must be a Catholic unmarried male at least 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and between the ages of 19 and 30. Swiss citizenship is required, as is a letter of good standing from the candidate’s pastor.

The pope spoke to the recruits on the anniversary of the Sack of Rome, a battle in 1527 in which 147 Swiss Guards lost their lives defending Pope Clement VII from mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Empire.

He said: “Since the institution of the Swiss Guards, many young men have fulfilled the singular function assigned to it, which continues to this day.”

“Through a generous and faithful commitment, over the centuries some have not shirked the hardest trials, going so far as to shed their blood to defend the pope and to enable him to carry out his mission in full independence.”

“With this supreme dedication, they have fulfilled what is provided for by the Regulations still in force: the security of the person of the pope and his residence.”

On May 4, the Vatican and the foundation overseeing the renovation of the Swiss Guards’ barracks signed a memorandum of understanding.

The plans have prompted speculation that the new design could accommodate women guards, which would require a change to the corps’ admission requirements.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin signs a memorandum of understanding on the renovation of the Swiss Guards’ barracks on May 4, 2022. Vatican Media.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin signs a memorandum of understanding on the renovation of the Swiss Guards’ barracks on May 4, 2022. Vatican Media.

The memorandum of understanding concerned the fundraising and planning phases of the renovation, reported Vatican News, the Holy See’s online news portal. A second agreement relating to the construction phase will be signed at a later date.

Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, offered Mass with the Swiss Guards in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis received the Swiss President Ignazio Cassis in a private audience.

Pope Francis with Switzerland’s President Ignazio Cassis at the Vatican on May 6, 2022. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis with Switzerland’s President Ignazio Cassis at the Vatican on May 6, 2022. Vatican Media.

The new guards were due to be sworn in at 5 p.m. local time on May 6 in an elaborate ceremony in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.

The corps said that the ceremony would take place “in reduced form” in the presence of the recruits’ family members.

During the ceremony, each recruit approaches the flag of the Swiss Guard as his name is called out. Firmly grasping the banner with his left hand, the new guard raises his right hand and opens three fingers as a sign of his faith in the Holy Trinity.

While holding up his fingers, the guard says: “I, (name), swear diligently and faithfully to abide by all that has just been read out to me, so grant me God and so help me his saints.”

In his address, Pope Francis asked Swiss Guards to pray for one of their colleagues who died recently, according to Vatican News.

He said: “I would like to pause for a moment in pain and sadness. And I would wish that your colleague Silvan Wolf were here present. Unfortunately, he has died, a good, joyful young man. An accident took him away from us. In silence, let us recall Silvan and pray for him.”

↯↯↯Read More On The Topic On TDPel Media ↯↯↯

»Share Your Opinion On TDPel Media«