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Rome Reports

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What it's like being chaplain of Swiss Guards


Three years ago, Thomas Widmer's bishop asked him to go to Rome to complete his studies in Theology. He would never have imagined he'd soon become the chaplain of one of the most important armies in the world: the Swiss Guard.

THOMAS WIDMER
Chaplain of the Swiss Guard
“In an improvised way, they asked me if I could be chaplain of the Swiss Guard. For me it was a beautiful surprise, because I never had thought of something like this.”

The Swiss Guard was created in 1506 to defend the Vatican and the pope. Every May 6, the new recruits swear to defend the Roman pontiff, even to the point of sacrificing their own lives.

The army's chaplain also prepares them for this oath. He tries to inform them, so they are aware of this important promise.

THOMAS WIDMER
Chaplain of the Swiss Guard
"I try to be with them, to give them the basics of faith so they can live out this oath well and be faithful to the mission of giving their life for the Holy Father if necessary."

Yet Fr. Thomas' daily job is not so different from what a priest usually does.

THOMAS WIDMER
Chaplain of the Swiss Guard
“The work is that which a priest always does: celebrating Holy Mass, giving the sacraments. Then there are moments of catechesis on topics related to faith or virtues, always something to help the military. Virtue is for man and the military.”

The Swiss Guards are well-cared for spiritually. It is fundamental so they can later carry out their work in defending the pope with courage and honor.