Swiss Guards effective if they grow in friendship with Christ

Pope: Swiss Guards effective if they grow in friendship with Christ
Benedict XVI receives the most photographed defense force in the world in audience. Yesterday, 26 new recruits were sworn in. Pope urges mutual love, adoration of the Eucharist and praying the rosary. Several guards at the end of their service chose religious life.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “The secret of the effectiveness of your work here in the Vatican, as well as every project you have is … constant reference to Christ”, this is the “military strategy” that Benedict XVI suggested to the Swiss Guard Corps received in audience this morning, along with the families of new recruits. The pope also called on his guards to take advantage “of the time you spend here in Rome, to grow in friendship with Christ, to love his Church more and more and to advance towards the goal of every true Christian, a life of holiness”

In fact yesterday, 26 new recruits were sworn in the Vatican, on the day that commemorates the sacrifice of a group of them in defense of Pope Clement VII against the mercenaries in the sack of Rome in 1527.

Over 500 years in the service of the pope, the Swiss Guards Corps – consisting of about 110 young Swiss men – controls the territory of Vatican City State. The guards – one of the most photographed military corps in the world – also guarantee the protection of the pontiff.

The military service of a Swiss Guards lasts 25 months and they all live in the Vatican. In his audience with them, the pontiff emphasized above all the spiritual elements that need to dominate their lives, “firmness in the Catholic faith, loyalty and love for the Church of Jesus Christ, diligence and perseverance in the small and large daily tasks, courage and humility, altruism and availability. These virtues must fill your heart in your service as honor and security guards in the Vatican”.

Exhorting them almost as if they were a monastic order, Benedict XVI added: “Be attentive to each other, support and edify each other in your daily work, and safeguard the style of evangelical charity towards people that you meet every day. In Sacred Scripture the call to the love of neighbor is tied to the command to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (cf. Mk 12, 29-31). To give love to your brethren you must nourish it from the furnace of Divine charity, through prolonged periods of prayer, constant listening to the Word of God, and a whole life centered on the mystery of the Eucharist. “

The exhortation of the pope also has historical reasons: on May 4, 1988, the Colonel of the Swiss Guard, Alois Estermann, his wife Gladys Meza Romero and vice-corporal Cedric Tornay were found dead in the Colonel’s apartment. Responsibility for the crime was officially attributed to Tornay, a restless and insular recruit.

The experience of the Swiss Guards, however, has also had more positive outcomes: some of them, after having served the pope, decide to go into consecrated life. Benedict XVI said: “No small amount of your predecessors, … stood out not only in the performance of their work, but also in their commitment to Christian life. Some have been called to follow the Lord in the priesthood or consecrated life, and they responded promptly and enthusiastically. Others have happily crowned their service with the Sacrament of Matrimony. I give thanks to God, source of all good, for the different gifts and different missions that He entrusts to you, and I also pray for you, as you start your service, so that you can fully respond to the call of Christ, following him with faithful generosity. “

“Let us ask the Virgin Mary – he concluded – whom we honor in a special way in the month of May, to help us experience every day our profound communion with God, which begins for us believers on earth and will be complete in heaven. We are called, as Saint Paul said, to be “fellow citizens with the saints and in the household of God” (Eph. 2, 19). “

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