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Pope meets new Swiss Guards

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday received new members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and their families on the eve of their swearing in ceremony in the Vatican. Listen to Lydia O’Kane's report. RealAudioMP3

May 6th marks the commemoration of the Sack of Rome in which in the year 1527 members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard gave their lives for the defense of the Church and the Pope. On the eve of that significant date in history, Pope Francis greeted the new recruits of the Swiss Guard and the families.

The Pope told them that serving in the Pontifical Swiss Guard means experiencing life in a very particular way.

The Holy Father stressed that although the city of Rome is filled with countless monuments and historical and artistic places that show the greatness of its culture and its history, the city is not only a great museum, but a crossroads for tourists and pilgrims from all over the world, people of different languages, traditions , religions and cultures.

He went on to say that they as new recruits were called to give a peaceful and joyful Christian witness to those who come to the Vatican to visit St. Peter's Basilica and see the Pope.

Pope Francis noted that the uniform of the Guard which is known throughout the world for its colours and shape, its reliability and dedication, this year celebrates its centenary.

But he underlined that behind every uniform is the wearer. With that in mind the Holy Father stressed a Swiss Guard should also be known for his spirit of hospitality, kindness, and an attitude of charity towards all.

The Pope also urged the new members to give importance to their life as part of a community of Guards, making time to share happy moments but also not ignoring fellow members in difficulty and in need of encouragement and friendship.

Pope Francis told those gathered that he sees the dedication and commitment of the Swiss Guard every day and very was very grateful for it.