New Swiss Guards Sworn In
Pope Thanks Their 500 Years of Service
During a special Mass on Saturday, May 6th, Pope Benedict thanked the Swiss Guards for their 500 years of loyal service. The young men (they must be Catholic, single, and between 18 and 25) sat in the front pews wearing their traditional blue-and-gold striped uniforms. Normally during a Papal Mass they would be standing silently at attention.
The swearing-in ceremony takes place on May 6th each year to commemorate when all 147 Swiss Guards died protecting Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome in 1527.
Although the swearing in traditionally takes place in an inner Vatican courtyard (see picture), this year it was held in St. Peter's Square to accomodate the host of visitors, many from Switzerland, who were on hand for the celebraton.
On Thursday, 100 former Guards completed a month-long re-enactment of the 450-mile march by the first group of 150 Swiss mercenaries who were summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II to protect him and the Vatican.