May 6, 2014 – 16:05
Thirty new Swiss Guards were sworn in on Tuesday in a special ceremony at the Vatican, pledging their allegiance to Pope Francis and promising to serve him and his successors “faithfully, loyally and in good faith.”
The pope had a formal audience with Guard members, as well as their families and friends, on Monday. He asked them to “be firm in your faith and generous in your charity towards the people you meet”, reminding them they were among the first to meet visitors to the Vatican.
Twenty of the new guards are from the German part of Switzerland, six are French speakers and the four others are from the Italian-speaking region. Most of the recruits spend two years with what is often called the world’s smallest army, created in 1506 and originally made up of Swiss mercenaries.
There are currently 110 men serving in the Swiss Guard. Recruits are traditionally sworn in on May 6, a day that commemorates the Sack of Rome by the troops of Charles V, leader of the Holy Roman Empire, in 1527. During the pillaging, 147 Swiss Guards died saving Pope Clement VII.