Pope’s Words to the Pontifical Swiss Guard on Occasion of Swearing In of New Recruits

‘Dear Guards, feel yourselves an active part of the great People of God, missionary disciples committed to witnessing the Gospel in the environment in which you work and in the places of your free time’

Photo by Zenit - HSM

Pope Francis received in audience on the morning of Saturday, May 6, 2017, in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, the Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps, on the occasion of the swearing in of the new Guards. The guards were accompanied by their families.

Here is a Zenit working translation of the Pope’s address to them in the course of the audience.

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The Holy Father’s Address

Mister Commander, Reverend Chaplain, dear Guards, dear relatives and friends of the Pontifical Swiss Guard!

I am happy to meet with you on the occasion of this festive day of yours and I wish to express a warm greeting, especially to the new recruits, who have chosen to spend some years of their youth at the service  of the Successor of Peter. The presence of your parents, relatives and friends, who have come to Rome to take part in these days of celebration, manifests both the affection of Swiss Catholics to the Holy See as well as the Christian education and good example through which the parents have transmitted the faith to the sons, the value of belonging to the Christian community and the meaning of ecclesial service.

As every year, you remember the painful, and at the same time famous, “sacking of Rome,” in which the Swiss Guards distinguished themselves in a courageous and indomitable defense of the Pope, to the sacrifice of life. Today you are not called to this heroic offering of your physical life, but to another sacrifice, no less arduous, namely, to serve the power of the faith. It is a valid barrier to resist the various forces and powers of this earth and, above all, he who is “the prince of this world,’ the “father of lies,” who “prowls around like a lion seeking someone to devour,” according to the words of the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:8). You are called to be strong and courageous, sustained by faith in Christ and by His word of salvation. Your presence in the Church, your important service in the Vatican is an occasion to grow as courageous “soldiers of Christ.” The pilgrims and tourists who have the possibility to meet you remain edified discovering in you, together with the characteristic professional composure, precision and seriousness also generous Christian witness and holiness of life. May this be your first concern.

I would like to invite you to live the period you spend in the “Eternal City” with sincere fraternity, supporting one another in leading an exemplary Christian life, which is motivated and supported by your faith. I am sure that the strongest push to come to Rome, to carry out this service, was given to you in fact by your faith. In fact, the singular mission entrusted to you in favor of the Holy See and the Church has its source in Baptism, which enables you to witness faith in Christ, dead and risen, where Providence puts you to live.

Dear Guards, feel yourselves an active part of the great People of God, missionary disciples committed to witnessing the Gospel in the environment in which you work and in the places of your free time. And this passes through little, daily gestures, sometimes repetitive, but to which it is important to give ever new meaning. Thus a style of conduct is formed that, within the Corps, is made up of mutual harmony and respectful communion with your superiors, and, on the outside, is expressed in hospitality, gentleness and patience.

I also hope that you will be able to value this stage of your life to take up some of the many possibilities of spiritual and cultural growth that Rome offers you. Saint Philip Neri, whose liturgical Memoria we will celebrate towards the end of this month, accompanied his youngsters in the discovery of traces of the ancient Christian communities, in the footsteps of the Saints. See, this is something that is very interesting: to go through Rome in the footsteps of many men and women Saints who lived in this City. And this will render your Roman period even more unforgettable and rich in fruits!

I take advantage of this occasion to renew to the entire Swiss Guard Corps my gratitude for the diligence and solicitude with which it carries out its precious activity at the service of the Pope and of Vatican City State. I ask you to pray for me and, while I invoke upon you the protection of the Holy Virgin and of your Patrons Saint Martin, Saint Sebastian and Saint Nicholas of Flue  — the sixth centenary of whose birth is observed this year) I impart to you from my heart the Apostolic Blessing.

 

[Original text: Italian]  [Working Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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