Monday, May 06, 2024

Pope urges Swiss Guards to cultivate community life

Pope with Swiss Guards, Commander and Chaplain

Pope Francis received in audience the Swiss Guards on Monday as they prepare for the traditional swearing-in ceremony of the new recruits which takes place every year on May 6. 

The day marks the anniversary of the heroic sacrifice of 147 Swiss Guards who died while defending Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome in 1527 by the landsknechts, the German mercenaries of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

A generous and diligent service

Extending his greetings to the Commander of the Swiss Guards, Colonel Christoph Graf, his collaborators, and the Chaplain, in his address Pope Francis renewed his gratitude to the military Corps for its presence in the Vatican that, he said, “stands out for its quality, for its kind, attentive, scrupulous style”, and for its service which is always “generous and diligent.” 

He also thanked their families which have made this possible by offering a good upbringing to their children.  

Human relationships are important

Noting the strong camaraderie of the Swiss Guards which incentivizes their motivation, Pope Francis highlighted the crucial importance of relationship for all Christians. 

“Good relationships are the main path for our human and Christian growth and maturation,” he said, recalling that “Much of what characterizes our personality we have learned through relationships with parents, brothers and sisters, schoolmates, teachers, friends, work colleagues.”

“Relationship is the key experience for Christians: Jesus revealed and testified to us that God is love, he is a relationship in himself, and in this mystery we find the goal and fulfillment of our existence.””

This is why, the Pope stressed, their two years of service in the Swiss Guard is such an important and formative time for them: “It is not just a period of work, but a time of life and relationships, of intense communion in a diversified company,” he  said.  

“This diversity and intensity of community and relationships in your daily barracks environment constitutes an essential and qualifying aspect for you.”

Cultivating community life

Concluding, Pope Francis further urged the new recruits to cultivate community life. 

Rather than isolate themselves in front a computer or a smartphone, as young people often do today, “it is better to use free time for common activities,  for moments of fraternity in which to talk and share”, the Pope said

“I also say to you, young Guards: go against the grain!”

34 new recruits

The swearing-in ceremony of  the new Swiss Guards took place this evening at 5.00 p.m. in the St. Damasus Courtyard in the Vatican. 

Of the 34 recruits 16 are German-speaking, 16 French-speaking and two Italian-speaking.

Before meeting Pope Francis the Swiss Guards and their families attended Mass presided over  early this morning by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in St. Peter’s Basilica.