Video: Impressive Swiss Guard Ceremony
|By John Ritchie|
One hundred and forty seven Swiss Guards made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of Holy Mother Church during the Sack of Rome in 1527.
Their sacrifice is commemorated yearly on May 6 with a swearing-in ceremony for new Swiss Guards. The striking event takes place in the historic Saint Damaso Courtyard within the Vatican City.
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The Chaplain of the Swiss Guard reads a solemn oath of loyalty:
"I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honorably serve the Supreme Pontiff [name] and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the see is vacant.
“Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors, respect, fidelity and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me!”
Each new guard approaches the Swiss Guard’s flag as their name is called out. Firmly clasping the banner in his left hand, the recruit raises his right hand high and distinctly opens three fingers, a symbol of his faith in the Holy Trinity.
Then, he confirms the oath, proclaiming:
“I, [name of the new guard], swear diligently and faithfully to abide by all that has just been read out to me, so grant me God and so help me his Saints.”
These patron saints of the Guard include St. Martin, St. Sebastian, and St. Nicholas of Flüe, “Defensor Pacis et pater patriae.”