By Vatican News staff writer
New recruits into the Pontifical Swiss Guard will be sworn in during a ceremony in the Vatican to be held on the afternoon of 6 May. It is the second year the event will take place without an audience, in accordance with current protection regulations to avoid infection due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A rich history
For the 34 young guards, the ceremony will be one of the highlights of their service, following in the footsteps of those, who, for centuries have sworn allegiance to the Pope.
The date of the event commemorates the 147 Swiss Guards who fell defending Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome in 1527. By taking the oath on the commander's flag, they promise eternal loyalty to Pope Francis and his lawful successors. In doing so, they express their devotion, loyalty and absolute will to serve the successor of Peter.
This year it will also be possible to follow the ceremony in streaming at www.guardiasvizzera.ch.
The ceremony will be attended only by the families of the Guards who will take the Oath. Greeting new Swiss Guard recruits and their families last year, the Pope said “The presence of your family members expresses the devotion of Swiss Catholics to the Holy See, as well as the moral education and good example by which parents have passed on to their children the Christian faith and the sense of generous service to their neighbour.”
He also told the recruits in 2020 that the oath they will take is “a declaration of fidelity to your baptismal vocation.”
The ceremony in the Courtyard of San Damasus
The programme for the 6 May, will include Holy Mass at 7:30 a.m. with the recruits in St. Peter's Basilica celebrated by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. At 5 p.m., the swearing-in ceremony will take place in the San Damasus Courtyard, and in the event of bad weather, will be moved to the Paul VI Hall.
Service of the Swiss Guard
The Pontifical Swiss Guard is the smallest army in the world, founded by Pope Julius II in 1506, and is responsible for the protection of the Pope, and includes the security of the Apostolic Palace. It also guards the College of Cardinals during the Sede Vacante or Vacant See.
The corps includes guards from all parts of Switzerland. Most of them come from the cantons of St. Gallen and Valais and the canton of Lucerne.