Vatican City, 6 May 2013 (VIS) – Today, in commemoration of the death of 147 Swiss soldiers, fallen while defending the pontiff during the sack of Rome (1527), the swearing-in ceremony of the new recruits of that Corps will take place. This year, 35 new recruits will take the oath at 5:00pm in the St. Damaso Courtyard before the Holy Father's representative, Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State. Cardinals, bishops, members of the Curia, and representatives of diplomatic delegations to the Holy See will participate at the ceremony.
The delegation from the government of the Canton of Zug will be headed by President Beat Villiger and the President of the Swiss Conferderation, Ueli Maurer, will also be present at the ceremony. The oath-swearing day began this morning with the celebration of Mass at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter at 9:30am, followed by the commemoration of the 147 fallen guards in the Square of Roman Protomartyrs.
Pope Francis, who received the 35 recruits and their families this morning, addressed them. “On this day,” he said, “you commemorate the sacrifice of the Swiss Guards who engaged in the vigorous defence of the Pope during the 'Sack of Rome'. Today you are not called to this heroic gesture but to another form of sacrifice, which is also challenging: to put your youthful energies at the service of the Church and the Pope. To do this you must be strong, motivated by love, and sustained by your faith in Christ. … I am certain that the decision to place years of your lives in service of the Pope is not foreign to your faith. Indeed, the deepest motivations that have brought you here to Rome originate in your faith. It is a faith that you have learned in your family, have cultivated in your parishes, and that also shows that attachment of Swiss Catholics to the Church. Remember it well: the faith that God has given you on the day of your Baptism is the most precious treasure you have! And your mission of service to the Pope and the Church also finds its source there.”
During your stay in Rome,” he continued, “you are called upon to bear witness to your faith with joy and a courteous manner. How important this is for so many people who pass through Vatican City! But it is also important for those who work here for the Holy See and for me as well! Your presence is a sign of the strength and the beauty of the Gospel that, in every time, calls the young to follow it. I would also like to invite you to live the time you spend in the 'Eternal City' in a spirit of genuine brotherhood, helping one another to live a good Christian life that corresponds to your faith and your mission in the Church.”
The Holy Father finished by reminding the new recruits that their specific ecclesial experience in the Swiss Guard Corps represents “a privileged opportunity to deepen the knowledge of Christ and his Gospel and to follow him, almost breathing here in Rome the catholicity of the Church. Today, when some of you swear to faithfully carry out your service in the Guard and others renew this oath in their hearts, think that your service is a testimony to Christ who calls you to be authentic men and true Christians, protagonists of your own existence.”