Rome: Swiss Guard recruits to be sworn in today

 At 5 pm today, in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, 33 new recruits will be sworn in as members of the Pontifical Swiss Guards in the presence of members of the Roman Curia, diplomatic representatives and civil and religious authorities from Switzerland. The day will start at 7.30am when 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 8.45am there will be a ceremony in the Honour Courtyard of the Swiss Guard Barracks in Vatican City to honour the fallen members of the Corps. May 6 is the date chosen for the swearing-in ceremony of the new guards because on that date in 1527, 147 members of the Swiss Guards lost their lives during the Sack of Rome when they fell in battle, protecting Pope Clement VII and the Church from the onslaught of the troops of Emperor Charles V. The Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded by Pope Julius II in 1506 as a stable corps, directly dependant on the Holy See, whose main duties were to guard of the person of the Roman Pontiff and the Apostolic Palaces. From the commandant to the newest halberdier of the 110-man corps, all members of the corps on May 6 are dressed in full dress uniform. The new members will take their oath of office in four languages: 23 in German, seven in French, two in Italian and one in Romansh. The oath is read by the Swiss Guard chaplain: "I swear to faithfully, loyally and honourably 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 then called by name and, in his native tongue, confirms the oath. The patron saints of the Pontifical Swiss Guards are St Martin, St Sebastian and St Niklaus von Flue, "defender of the peace and father of the Country." Source: VIS

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