36 new recruits sworn in for world's smallest army, Swiss president in attendance

(Photo: Vatican Media)Pope Francis greets new recruits of the Swiss Guard on May 6, 2022.

As the smallest army and one the world's oldest standing armies May 6 is always a special day because the force welcomes in new recruits from Switzerland to serve the Roman Catholic pope.

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The date marks when 147 of their predecessors were killed protecting Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome, an uprising in 1527.

Francis was in a wheelchair due to a knew injury.

Pope Francis met the President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, on the  commemoration of the sacrifice of the Swiss Guards and the swearing-in of 36 new recruits in the Pontifical Corps.

The ongoing war in Ukraine and its repercussions in Europe, with particular reference to the situation of Ukrainian refugees and displaced people in need of humanitarian assistance, were one of discussion topics during the talks, said Vatican News.

The new recruits swear an oath of allegiance and officially begin their service in the employ of the Pope.

Pope Francis met with the Swiss Guards to celebrate with them what he called "a beautiful occasion," Vatican News reported.

He addressed the Guards and their families, and Francis extended his special greetings to the new recruits who were sworn in at a ceremony later.

Francis said they are devoting a few years of their lives to "a task which is both fascinating and full of responsibility in the heart of the universal Church."

"Through a generous and faithful commitment, over the centuries some men have not shirked the hardest trials, going so far as to shed their own blood to defend the Pope and to enable him to carry out his mission in full independence."


The Pope added that Swiss Guards serve with "supreme dedication" to ensure the "security of the Pope and of his residence."

Pope Francis encouraged the new recruits in their decision to embark on an "exquisitely ecclesial task," which must be lived "as a Christian and communal witness."

The Swiss Guards serve as a community and not individually, said the Pope, urging them to embrace community life in every moment of their day.

"Living service in a community is a challenge," he said, "because it involves bringing together individuals with different personalities, temperaments and sensibilities, who find themselves walking a stretch of road together."

Yet, noted the Pope, the Guards are motivated by the "ideal of serving the Church", which helps them face moments of difficulty when they arise.

The Swiss Guard was founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II, deposed twice and re-established in 1800. It remains tasked with protecting the pope and his residence.

Entry requirements include being Swiss, Catholic, at least 1.74 meters (5 feet 7 inches) tall, under 30 years old, and male.

The Pontifical Swiss Guard has increased from 110 to 135 men since 2018.

Photo: Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets Swiss President Ignazio Cassis on May 6, 2022
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