On Friday, October 2, Pope Francis welcomed the new 38 Swiss Guard recruits into the Vatican.
In his message, the Pope emphasized the crucial role of the family in the transmission of the faith. He also acknowledged and thanked the new recruits for dedicating “a period of their youth in the service of the Successor of Peter.” (Read: Six Facts You Need To Know About Pope Francis’ Swiss Guards)
“The presence of your family members expresses the devotion of Swiss Catholics to the Holy See,” the Pope said. “(This is) as well as the moral education and good example by which parents have passed on to their children the Christian faith and the sense of generous service to their neighbor.”
Courage and Loyalty
The Pope also recalled the “illustrious past” of the Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps. He told them his thoughts turned in particular to the “Sack of Rome,” which saw the Swiss Guards courageously defend the Pope and give their lives in his honor.
“The memory of that event,” Pope Francis said, “may evoke in you the danger of a spiritual plundering… In today’s social context, many young people run the risk of being stripped of their souls, when they follow ideals and lifestyles that respond only to material desires or needs.” (Read: 7 Prayers When You’re Going Through Spiritual Warfare)
Home for Swiss Guards
The Vatican is also providing a new and more eco-friendly home to the men who secures the safety of the Pope 24 hours a day. It comes as the current barracks, which is already dilapidated, no longer offers the framework and equipment necessary to accommodate the Guards.
“My life would be unthinkable without the Swiss Guards. They are always near me, day and night,” said Pope Francis. “Their professionalism, discipline, discretion, reliability, and courtesy fill me with a great sense of gratitude. For this reason, it is extremely important that in the Vatican, which is becoming more and more a second homeland for them, their wives and children, that they have a modern and at the same time safe housing.”
The construction of the new building will be an opportunity to experiment with eco-sustainable construction techniques. Respect for the environment will be central as it is one of the advocacies of Pope Francis—evident in his encyclical Laudato si’. The new barracks will also use simple materials and will need little maintenance. (Read: Pope Francis to Sign New Encyclical on October 3)
The project is being financed by the Foundation for the Renovation of the Barracks of the Papal Swiss Guard—a Swiss charity established in 2016. The Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin thanked the Foundation and the donors.