VATICAN CITY, JAN. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI thanked the Carabinieri’s Vatican police corps for their “humble and indispensable” service of patrolling St. Peter’s Square and its environs.
The Pope received the Carabinieri today in audience, together with Archbishop Vincenzo Pelvi of the Military Ordinariate of Italy, and the corps’ general commander, Leonardo Gallitelli.
The Carabinieri is a uniformed national police force, and a branch of Italy’s armed forces (alongside the Army, Navy and Air Force). It was founded in 1814 by King Victor Emmanuel I of Savoy.
The Roma San Pietro Company is responsible for maintaining security and public order in St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding areas.
Benedict XVI highlighted the “vigilant and discreet” work of the Carabinieri.
“Your task contributes to give security and serenity to pilgrims and visitors who come to the center of the Catholic faith and enables them to have the necessary spiritual recollection in the visit to the tomb of the Apostle Peter and to the basilica that houses it,” he said.
“As the majestic Bernini colonnade suggests,” the Pope continued, “the house of Peter is always open to welcome, in an ideal embrace, believers and all men of good will, who receive light and encouragement to grow in the faith and to become builders of peace and serene civil coexistence.”
“Of this peaceful and intense flow of persons of different ages, origin and culture, you are witnesses, tutors and guarantors, silent and diligent, but very necessary and valued,” the Holy Father explained to the police officers.
Benedict XVI noted his appreciation for the Carabinieri’s “humble, but indispensable work,” which makes it possible for “the pilgrimage to Rome to be, for each visitor, a unique occasion to experience the joy of the faith and the values of fraternity, hospitality and mutual respect.”
Before giving his apostolic blessing, the Pope called to mind the many men and women who, in various parts of the world, “are engaged in delicate missions of peace.”
At present, the Carabinieri Corps has at least 120,000 troops, men and women.