Over 500 years later: young men continue to “serve for something greater” in Swiss Guard

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Beyond the dome of St. Peter's Basilica is another well-known image tied to Rome. These colorful red, yellow and blue uniforms stand guard outside the entrances to the Vatican. These men form the pope's army: the Swiss Guard.

Founded in 1506, men from all parts of Switzerland continue to join the smallest army in the world for many reasons. Some see it as their ongoing service to the Church.

Canton of Vaud, Switzerland

I became a Swiss Guard because I was an altar boy. I was an altar boy for 10 years before the Guard. It is like a continuation of the highest service I can give to the Church as just a guy, not as a priest. I have the deep feeling that it is God calling me to be a Guard and be sworn in on May 6.

Every year, a new group of men train for two months to prepare for the role of officially protecting the pope and the Vatican. And it's a mission in service of the Church and their country.

Canton of Tessin, Switzerland

For Switzerland, it's important because it's an image we have in the whole world. For us, it's one of the bigger things people know about Switzerland is the Swiss Guards. So that's important and also, the holy side of it, I think it's important that everyone around the world can see that young people are in the Church.

And in Switzerland, where about 30% of people are Catholic, the Swiss Guard is an example of the continuing presence of young people living their faith.

Canton of Vaud, Switzerland

We are all between 20-23 years old. Some are 29, however the majority are 20 years old. And we give 2 years of our lives for the Church and the Pope. I think it's a nice example of young people serving, that there are still young people who can give their time, two years of their youth, for something greater.

These guards will take this experience with them into whatever they do after their service in the Eternal City.

Canton of Tessin, Switzerland

Maybe I will be more engaged in the Church when I come back to Switzerland. That's a point, it has many chance to grow here all the spiritual part here.

On May 6, this ancient tradition will continue as 34 men swear their allegiance to protect the Pope as their predecessors have for more than 500 years.


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