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Pope's Army: New Swiss Guard recruits take their oath

2013-05-07

The army has about 110 members. This year, 35 new recruits were sworn in. The ceremony made it official, but they had actually been in Rome training, during the Sede Vacante and Conclave period.

FR. ALAIN DE REMY
Swiss Guard Chaplain

"They directly experienced the conclave. It was a type of grace and a very intense preparation  for them. Living those moments when the Church feels the presence of the Holy Spirit, as cardinals elect the Head of the Church. They lived those moments directly and that gave way to a lot of questions that in a way prepared them for their new oath and loyalty to the Pope.”

Because of the rainy weather, this year the ceremony took place indoors, at the Vaticans Paul VI Hall. Usually, it takes place in St. Peter's Square.

As part of the ceremony, each new recruit grabs the Swiss Guard flag with one hand and with the other, they lift three fingers, which represents the Trinity. They promise to defend the Pope and his legitimate successors at all costs, even their own life. Speaking in their native language, they ask God and their patron saints for help.

Among the guests were Archbishop Angelo Becciu, from the Vatican's Secretariat of State. The president of the Swiss Confederation, Ueli Maurer was also seated in the front row. Of course, the proud family members of the new guards were there as well to cheer them on.

GERTRUD DANIEL
Family Member

"Today was great. It  has been a long preparation, we've been expecting this day for months.  Everyday we were thinking what are we going to do, what are we going to wear, is the weather going to be nice? How are the boys going to take the oath, how it going to be? This is a big honor, a privilege for our family we are very proud to be Swiss.”

So for at least two years, the new soldiers will be part of the smallest army in the world, with just about 110 members. It may be the smallest army, but it's also the most colorful and historic.



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