VATICAN CITY (CNS): It may be one of the world’s smallest armies, but the tiny corps of 110 men who protect the successor of Peter is big in spirit, said Pope Benedict XVI.
“This spirit of the Swiss Guards is nourished by the glorious tradition of almost five centuries of a small army with great ideals,” the Pope said on May 6 in his address to new recruits, their family members and friends.
The 31 new recruits met with the Pope several hours before they took their oath as members of the Swiss Guard in a colourful swearing-in ceremony in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace.
The ceremony is held each year on May 6, the anniversary of the date in 1527 when 147 guards died defending Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome.
The new recruits swear an oath to “faithfully, loyally and honourably” serve the Pope, “sacrificing if necessary” their lives to defend him.