military authorities from Switzerland as well as other countries were
on hand at St. Peter’s Basilica for the ceremony, where they joined
relatives, friends of the Guard and military chaplains.
homily, the Holy Father discussed the readings--taken from the Book of
Wisdom and St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. He said that "whoever,
fascinated by wisdom, seeks and finds it in Christ, leaves everything
for Him, receiving in exchange the priceless gift of the Kingdom of
God; and, clothed in temperance, prudence, justice and strength (the
'cardinal' virtues), he lives his witness of charity within the Church."
He likened this
vision to the Pontifical Swiss Guard who, "motivated by love for Christ
and the Church, put themselves at the service of Peter's Successor."
expressed his gratitude both for those members of the Guard who had
signed on for a limited time, as well as others who decided to serve
for their whole lives. He expressed his joy for those whose service in
the Vatican had "brought them to mature a response to a priestly or
he continued, “for everyone, being Swiss Guards means an unreserved
adherence to Christ and to the Church, and a readiness to give one's
life. Actual service may cease, but in your hearts you always remain
Here the Pope
commended the “nearly 80 former Guards who, from April 7 to May 4, made
the extraordinary march from Switzerland to Rome, mainly following the
old pilgrim route of the Via Francigena."
listeners to be nourished by the Eucharist, he encouraged them, above
all else, to be "men of prayer, that divine wisdom may make you true
friends of God and servants of His Kingdom of love and peace.”
“It is in the
sacrifice of Christ”, he said, “that the service of your long line of
predecessors over these 500 years acquires completeness of meaning and
the Pontifical Swiss Guard--the longest standing army in the
world--continues to celebrate 500 years of service to the Pope and the
Church, Pope Benedict celebrated Mass on Saturday thanking both past
and present Guard members for the dedication of their lives.