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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Devil, not invaders, biggest enemy at hand, pope tells Swiss Guard

Be ready with the spiritual weapon of faith because the biggest battle facing the Swiss Guard today is fighting the devil and worldly vices, Pope Francis told the guard’s members.

The Swiss Guards’ colourful and valuable presence at the service of the pope and Vatican City State “is an occasion to grow as courageous ‘soldiers of Christ'” and be witnesses of holiness to countless tourists and visitors, he said.

The pope held a private audience with the Swiss Guard, including 40 new recruits and their family members, on the morning of 6th May, the day of the guard’s annual swearing-in ceremony.

New recruits pledge to “faithfully, loyally and honourably” serve and protect the pontiff and, if necessary, sacrifice their lives for him.

The colourful induction ceremony is held on 6th May every year to mark the date in 1527 when 147 Swiss Guards lost their lives defending Pope Clement VII in the Sack of Rome. Only 42 guards survived. Holding the ceremony on the anniversary is meant to remind new guards of the seriousness of their commitment.

Picture: New Swiss Guards march after the swearing-in ceremony for 40 new recruits at the Vatican on 6th May. New recruits are sworn in every year on 6th May, the date in 1527 when 147 Swiss soldiers died defending the pope. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).