Vatican City, May 4, 2019 / 04:14 am
Pope Francis encouraged the Swiss Guard Saturday to use their work, and the encounters they have in and around Vatican City, to be witnesses of faith, joy, and God’s love.
“During your stay in Rome, you are called to witness to your faith with joy, so that the many people you meet, especially at the entrances to Vatican City, can be favorably impressed by the spirit in which you do your work,” the pope said May 4.
“I ask each of you this,” he continued. “Make sure that those you meet in your daily service, members of the Curia, work colleagues in various areas of the Vatican, pilgrims or tourists, can also discover through you the love of God for every man. This is the first mission of every Christian!”
Pope Francis spoke to the guards a few days ahead of the formal ceremony for the swearing-in of new guards, which takes place every year on May 6. This year there are 23 recruits who will take the oath to protect and defend the pope.
In their meeting, Francis noted the inevitable challenges the guards face in their work, which is why, he said, they need the support of a strong faith – and even more so because people expect to see “total dedication and holiness of life” in those who serve the Holy See.
“The reality of the barracks teaches some ethical and spiritual principles, which reflect many of the values that must be pursued also in life: dialogue, loyalty, balance in relationships, understanding,” he said.
He also pointed out that the virtues and skills they can acquire in this work will also be useful in life after they leave the Swiss Guard.
The swearing-in ceremony takes place each year on the anniversary of the May 6, 1527 battle that is known as the Sack of Rome, when 147 guards lost their lives defending Pope Clement VII from the army of the mutinous Holy Roman Empire.