Today, 35 new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guards were sworn in on the day commemorating the death of 147 Swiss soldiers who died protecting Pope Clement during the Sack of Rome in 1527.
The recruits, who were sworn in by Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State, met with Pope Francis earlier in the day during a private audience at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
“Every day,” Pope Francis said, “I am able to experience the dedication, professionalism and love with which you conduct your service. And for this I thank you! In particular, I would like to thank your families, who have graciously accepted your choice to live this service at the Vatican and support you with their affection and their prayers.”
Calling to mind the sacrifice of those soldiers who passed away in 1527, the Holy Father stated that the new recruits were called to “another form of sacrifice”, that is, to put their youthful energies at the service of the Church and the Pope.
“This year your celebration fits in the context of the Year of Faith, that the Church is living all over the world,” the Pope said. “ I am sure that the decision to put years of your life at the service of the Pope is not extraneous to your faith. Indeed, the deeper motivations that have driven you here to Rome have their source in your faith. A faith that you have learned in your families, cultivated in your parishes, and which also manifests the commitment of Swiss Catholics to the Church.”
“Remember well,” the Pope reminded the recruits, “the faith that God has given you on the day of your Baptism is the most valuable treasure that you have! And even your mission at the service of the Pope and the Church finds its source there: in faith.”
The Holy Father also called on the Swiss Guards to bear witness to the faith with “joy and delicacy” stating that it is important for those who pass through Vatican City to see.
“Your presence is a sign of the strength and beauty of the Gospel, which in every age calls young people to follow it. And I would also like to invite you to live out the time that you spend in the “Eternal City” in a spirit of sincere friendship, helping each other to lead a good Christian life, which corresponds to your faith and your mission in the Church.”
The Holy Father concluded his address by reminding the new recruits that their ecclesial experience in the Swiss Guard Corps is an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of Christ and the Gospel by immersing themselves in Rome, where they can breathe the “catholicity of the Church.
“When some of you today will swear faithfully to carry out the service in the guard and the others renew this oath in their hearts, think that your service, too, is a testimony to Christ, who is calling you to be authentic and true Christians, the protagonists of your existence,” the Holy Father concluded.