Vatican City, 5 May 2014 (VIS) – Today in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father received in audience the new recruits to the Pontifical Swiss Guard who will swear their allegiance to the Pope tomorrow, accompanied by their families and friends. “It is a special day, as it commemorates the Sack of Rome and the heroic act of your predecessors who, in 1527, offered their lives to defend the Church and the Pope. Your dedication confirms that their courage and loyalty have borne fruit”.
“The social and ecclesial context has changed greatly since then”, he continued. “Society is different with respect to those times. But man's heart, his capacity to be loyal and courageous – acriter et fideliter, as your motto says, - has remained the same. … Serving in the Swiss Guard means living an experience that involves a meeting of time and space in a very particular way. … With your special service, you are called upon to offer serene and joyful Christian witness to whoever arrives in the Vatican to visit St. Peter's Basilica and to meet the Pope. Live your days intensely! Be firm in your faith and generous in your charity towards the people you meet”.
He commented that the celebrated uniform of the Swiss Guard will celebrate one hundred years this year. “Its colours and shape are known throughout the world, and stand for dedication, seriousness and security. They are identified with singular service and a glorious past. However, behind every uniform there is a real person: with a family and a homeland, with a personality and sensibility, with wishes and plans in life. Your uniform is an evocative trait of the Swiss Guard and attracts the attention of the people. But remember that it is not the uniform, but rather he who wears it, who must be noted for his kindness, his spirit of welcome, for his charitable attitude towards all. Consider this also in your relations between yourselves, according importance, also in your community life, to sharing both joyful moments and those that are more difficult, without ignoring those among you who are in difficulty and who are at times in need of a smile and a gesture of encouragement and friendship. Avoid that negative distance that divides companions and, in the lives of all people in the world, can give rise to disdain, marginalisation and racism”.