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Pope Francis welcomes Vatican’s new Swiss Guard recruits

Pope Francis welcomes Vatican’s new Swiss Guard recruits

New Swiss Guards prepare to be sworn in on May 6, 2024, at the Vatican. / Credit: Elizabeth Alva/EWTN

ACI Prensa Staff, May 7, 2024 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis received the Vatican’s Swiss Guard Corps on the occasion of the swearing-in of the new guards on May 6.

After participating in a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, 34 new recruits and their families were received by Pope Francis at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. At 5 p.m. local time, the young men pledged their loyalty and absolute resolve to serve the successor of Peter.

‘Thank you for your generous service’

Addressing the new recruits and their families, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for their presence and their “daily service, always generous and diligent.”

The pope especially greeted Commander Christoph Graf, as well as the guard chaplain, whom he referred to as “an excellent Benedictine.”

After expressing his gratitude, the pontiff noted that among the guards there is “a positive and respectful atmosphere in the barracks, a courteous behavior with your superiors and guests, despite the sometimes long periods of intense and exhausting service.”

“You demonstrate a high level of motivation and willingness to serve, and also — this pleases me greatly — good relations among yourselves: You go on excursions together, you spend holidays together, you go out together often. And that’s very good,” he remarked.

Pope Francis  pointed out that “relationship is the key experience for us Christians: Jesus revealed and witnessed to us that God is love, he is in himself a relationship, and in this mystery we find the goal and the fullness of our existence.”

‘The great family of the Swiss Guard’

For Pope Francis, “good relationships are the path to our human and Christian growth and maturation.”

He reiterated that much of what characterizes our personality we have learned through relationships with our loved ones and noted that “life in the great family of the Swiss Guard, for at least two years of service, is such an important and formative period.”

The Holy Father assured them that “it is not just a period of work but a time of life and relationship” and highlighted that “this diversity and intensity of community and relationships among you in your daily barracks environment is an essential and qualifying aspect.”

The pope encouraged the new Swiss Guards to “actively cultivate community life.”

He lamented that many young people spend their free time alone with their cellphone or computer and therefore urged them to go “against the flow.”

“It’s better to use your free time for common activities, to get to know Rome, for moments of fraternity in which to relate and share, to play sports… these experiences build your inner self and will accompany you throughout your life,” the Holy Father said.

Pope Francis greets new Swiss Guards as they prepare to be sworn in on May 6, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

Oath of the new Swiss Guards

Following an ancient tradition, on the afternoon of May 6, 34 new recruits of the Swiss Guard took their oath to serve the pope and the Church at the St. Damasus Cloister in the Vatican.

The ceremony takes place on the day that commemorates the death of 189 Swiss soldiers in defense of Pope Clement VII in 1527 during the Sack of Rome.

Through their oath, the new Swiss Guards expressed their loyalty and absolute resolve to serve Peter’s successor.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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