Swiss Guard completes Lenten spiritual exercises

Members of the Vatican Swiss Guard.
Members of the Vatican Swiss Guard.


During last week's lull in public events and audiences at the Vatican due to the annual Lenten retreat, the Swiss Guard and other Vatican security staff also participated in retreats.

In a retreat center near the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, three sessions lasting three days each were offered to give the Swiss Guards and new recruits an opportunity to rotate out for meditations.

Monsignor Alain de Raemy, chaplain of the Swiss Guard, told CNA that the retreats were divided into squads and that reflections were tailored to the languages of the guards.

Each of the three retreats was given in at least two languages, he said, "so it's a little complicated." All Swiss Guards took part in these sessions.

According to L'Osservatore Romano, the Croatian priest Tomislav Ivancic, a member of the International Theological Commission, led meditations on faith as a value in German. Swiss Cardinal Henri Schwery spoke of faith as a transformative force in French, while Fr. Giorgio Paximadi, professor from the Theology Department of Lugano, Switzerland spoke to the Guards in Italian on faith as a testimony.

Following the mandatory retreat, which is part of their spiritual formation for the year, Monsignor de Raemy said, "You see some differences in the guards."

During the spiritual exercises, they also have the opportunity to go to confession, and for those who aren't used to the sacrament of penance, "they live the sacrament in a positive way, like everyone else," he explained.

Two other Vatican patrols, the Gendarme and the Fire Squad, also took part in one-day retreats during the week at the Fraterna Domus just outside Rome.

The 90-year-old Czech Cardinal Tomas Spidlik gave their meditations, which focused on the interior dimension of the Christian.

Their chaplain, Monsignor Giulio Viviani, also led them in the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross.