Thirty-three new Swiss Guards to be sworn in tomorrow

Thirty-three new recruits will be sworn into the Pontifical Swiss Guards at 5pm tomorrow in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace. Members of the Roman Curia, and Swiss civil and religious authorities will be present at the event.

At 7:30 a.m. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, will preside at Mass at the Altar of the Cathedra in St. Peter's Basilica for the Swiss Guards and their family members.

At 8:45 a.m. there will be a ceremony in the Honor Courtyard of the Swiss Guard Barracks in Vatican City to honor the fallen members of the Corps. May 6 is one of the most significant dates in the history of the Swiss Guard, and was chosen for the swearing-in of the new recruits because it is the day when 147 Swiss Guards died protecting Pope Clement VII against the army of Emperor Charles V, during the Sack of Rome in 1527.

The main duty of the Pontifical swiss Guard, founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II, is to protect the person of the Supreme Pontiff and the Apostolic Palaces.

The oath to be taken is as follows: "I swear to faithfully, loyally and honorably serve the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the See is vacant. Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors respect, fidelity and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me."

Each recruit is called by name and confirms the oath in his native tongue, one of four official Swiss languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. All will be represented tomorrow.

The patron saints of the Pontifical Swiss Guards are St. Martin, St. Sebastian and the Swiss,  St. Niklaus von Flue, "defender of the peace and father of  the Country."

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