Benedict XVI Welcomes New Swiss Guards

Calls Them to Support Each Other in Their Service

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 8, 2012 ( Benedict XVI received in audience Monday 26 new Swiss Guards along with their families. The new recruits were sworn in on Sunday in a ceremony that is held every May 6 to commemorate the day when 147 Swiss Guards died defending Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome. 

The Holy Father expressed his appreciation to the men who have chosen to consecrate this period of their lives “in total availability to the Successor of Peter.» He also highlighted the components that distinguish their service: “Steadfastness in the Catholic faith, fidelity and love for the Church of Jesus Christ, diligence and perseverance in daily tasks small and great, courage and humility, altruism and availability. These virtues must fill your hearts as you lend your service of honor and security at the Vatican.”

Founded in 1506, the colorfully-clad soldiers are charged with protecting the pope and ceremonial duties within Vatican City. Swiss Guards who enlist must serve a minimum of two years.

The Pope exhorted the new recruits to support and edify each other in their daily work, reminding them of Mark’s Gospel that correlates the call to love one’s neighbor to the commandment to love God with all one’s heart, soul and strength. 

The Pontiff also urged them to continue being examples of Christian virtue in their lives after completing their service, citing examples of previous Swiss guards. “This is also the witness of not a few of your predecessors, who distinguished themselves not only by the manner in which they carried out their work, but also by their commitment to living a Christian life,» he said. 

“Some were called to follow the Lord along the way of the priesthood and the consecrated life,” he continued, “and they responded with promptness and enthusiasm. Others have happily crowned a vocation to the married life with the Sacrament of Matrimony.” He invited the new Swiss Guards to take advantage of the time in Rome to grow in holiness in their individual lives. 

The Holy Father concluded the audience by asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to help them each day to enter in full communion with God. “We are called, in fact, as St. Paul reminds us, to be “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.»

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