.- Sixty children dressed in the uniform of the Swiss Guards will welcome Pope Benedict XVI during World Youth Day this August in Madrid.
The director of the group, nicknamed the “Young Swiss Guards,” told Fides news agency that the group was born out of affection for the Pope after John Paul II’s first visit to Spain in 1982.
Bl. John Paul II visited the country again in 1993 and 2003, always accompanied by the young Swiss Guards.
The group will welcome the Pope at the airport in Barajas, Spain and will greet him there at the end of World Youth Day.
Their uniforms took about 5,000 hours of work to create and used more than 450 meters of fabric and 4,200 meters of fabric tape.
Unlike their young imitators, the Pontifical Swiss Guards number 110 and are responsible for the Pope’s safety. They guard his home and assist him during important ceremonies celebrated in the Vatican.
The guard marked its 505th anniversary in January. On Jan. 22, 1506, 150 Swiss soldiers entered the Vatican at the request of Pope Julius II. It is the oldest standing army in the world.