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Pope Francis

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Swiss Guards take their oath to protect the Pope

2015-05-06

It's one of the most colorful ceremonies of the Vatican and definitely one of the most historic. It starts off with a powerful oath, which can be said in German, French or Italian. 

It takes just a few seconds to say, but these new recruits are swearing their loyalty,  promising to defend the Pope at all costs, even with their own lives. 

When it comes to the security of the Pope and the Vatican, the head of the Swiss Guard said it simply cannot be overlooked, especially given the times. 

CHRISTOPH GRAF
Swiss Guard Colonel
"It's an oath, that given the current international tension, requires a firm conviction. In the recent past, certain events have shown that during these times, the issue of security cannot be overlooked.” 

One by one, before their families, friends and Vatican officials, the 32 new recruits publicly  took their oath. With one hand, soldiers grab the Swiss Guard flag. With the other, they hold up three fingers to represent the Holy Trinity. 

With roughly 110 soldiers, they make up the smallest army in the world, and probably the most colorful. 

To be part of this army, one must be Swiss, Catholic, single, be between the ages of 19-30 years old and be at least 5 feet 8 inches, tall. 

The ceremony takes place every year on May 6th. It's a way to honor the deadly battle that took place back in 1527, when the city of Rome was sacked and 147 Swiss Guards died, defending Pope Clement VII. 

Even though the Pope didn't attend this ceremony, he did met with the new soldiers days before the official ceremony, telling them to arm themselves with the Sacraments, the rosary and a small pocket Gospel book they should carry and  read every day. 


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