Pope welcomes 32 new Swiss Guard recruits
Pope John Paul II has welcomed a new batch of recruits for the Swiss Guard and thanked them for the protection and service they offer in Vatican City.
Addressing the recruits and their families in an audience before their swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday, the Holy Father said their pledge to defend him was not an empty promise. He said that in past centuries some of their predecessors gave their lives in service to the papacy.
The ceremony is held each year on the anniversary of the day in 1527 when 147 Swiss Guards died defending Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome.
The new recruits swear an oath to keep special watch over the pope and his residence.
"Every year I am an appreciative witness of this commitment, as well as the loyalty and generosity of the young Swiss men in carrying out this service," the pope said.
He noted that in modern times, the guards are increasingly called upon to "welcome with kindness" the innumerable pilgrims who ask them for help and information.
Catholic News Service
Swiss Guard gains new members, Pope's thanks (Catholic World News)
Swiss Guard (Vatican website)
8 May 2003