Swiss Guard recruits pledge to protect the pope with their lives

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With their
left hands
clutching a standard and their right hands raised with three fingers open symbolizing the
Holy Trinity, 23 new Swiss Guard recruits pledged to “faithfully, loyally and honorably”
serve and protect the pope and, if necessary, sacrifice their lives for him.

The pageantry
of the annual May 6 ceremony did not lessen the solemnity of the occasion that
marks the date in 1527 when 147 Swiss Guards lost their lives defending Pope
Clement VII in the Sack of Rome.

ceremony in the Vatican’s
San Damaso Courtyard is meant to remind new guards of the seriousness of
their commitment on the anniversary of their predecessors’ death.

Thomas Widmer, chaplain of the Swiss Guard, read to the new recruits their oath
to protect the pope and the College
of Cardinals when
the See of St. Peter is vacant.

the proclamation, each of the new recruits swore to “diligently and
faithfully” abide by the oath through the intercession of “God and …
his saints.”

to the ceremony, the new recruits and their families, friends and fellow guards
attended a morning Mass presided by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of

Parolin told them to
respond to their first calling as baptized Christians: to bring
“the Gospel to men and women and to give witness to the joyful message of
true life.”

sacrifice of the brave 147 soldiers who perished in the Sack of Rome, he added,
would not have been possible without “faith in the Lord of life, without
faith in the resurrection.”

by this faith in the risen
Jesus and strengthened by the joyful experience that the Lord gives life in its
fullness, I invite you dear guards, to have the courage to be witnesses in
today’s world despite the difficulties,” the cardinal said.

– – –

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article