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Dear friends of the Swiss Guard!
I am pleased to welcome you and extend my cordial greeting to each of you, your family, your friends, to the authorities and to all who have wanted to take part in these days of celebration. To all of you, dear guards, I renew most sincere thanks for your valuable and generous service to the Pope and the Church. Every day 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.
On this date you memorialize the sacrifice of the Swiss guards engaged in fierce defense of the Pope during the “sack of Rome”. Today, you are not called to this heroic gesture, but to another form of sacrifice, also demanding: to put your youthful energies at the service of the Church and the Pope. And to do this you must be strong, animated by love and sustained by faith in Christ. This year your celebration fits in the context of the Year of Faith, that the Church is living all over the world. 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 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.
During your stay in Rome, you are called to bear witness to your faith with joy and delicacy. How important this is for many people who pass through Vatican City! But it is also important for those who work here for the Holy See, and it is also for me! 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. May you know how be attentive to each other, to recognize when someone of you may be having a moment of difficulty. Be ready to listen, to be close to him. Pray for each other, and put into practice in your mutual help that communion you draw from Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
Your specific ecclesial experience in the body of the Swiss Guard represents a prime opportunity to deepen your knowledge of Christ and his Gospel and to walk in following it, almost breathing, here in Rome, 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. Deeply united to Him, you will know how to face with maturity the obstacles and the challenges of life, in the firm conviction that, as the Liturgy of the Paschal vigil reminds us, the risen Lord is “the eternal King who has overcome the darkness of the world”. He alone is the Truth, the Way and the Life.
Dear Swiss Guards, don’t forget that the Lord walks with you. This is a good thought that does good to the soul: don’t forget that the Lord always work with us, is always at your side to sustain you, especially in times of difficulty and trial. I wish deeply that you may always feel the joy and comfort of his luminous and merciful presence.
I commend each of you and your valuable service to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary and your patron saints; and I impart to you, to your family and to all my heartfelt Blessing as a sign of great affection and special gratitude.[Translation by Peter Waymel]