The Holy Father met with members of the Carabinieri, the Italian national police force, on Thursday morning in the Clementine Room of the Apostolic Palace, where he thanked the corps for its service.
The Vatican reported that Benedict XVI expressed his gratitude to the police force for its diligence in having a "vigilant yet discreet presence in the area around the Vatican."
"Your labors help to provide security and serenity for the pilgrims and visitors who come to the center of the Catholic faith and allow them the necessary spiritual concentration as they visit the tomb of the Apostle Peter and the Basilica that houses it."
A press communiqué released by the Holy See on Tuesday reported that the number of visitors to Papal events at the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo in 2009 was well over two million.
The Pope wished the representatives from the St. Peter's unit and the entire corps success in their work, saying, "May your own faith, the tradition of faithfulness and generosity of which you are heirs, and the ideals of your corps help you to find in this delicate service new sources for satisfaction and for experiencing positive elements in your personal and professional lives."
Benedict XVI concluded their meeting by entrusting the force to their patroness, the Virgin Mary.