A Swiss Guard receives the Eucharist during the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 5 (Galazka photo)

Every year the annual swearing-in of new recruits is traditionally held on May 6, to commemorate an historic event, the Sack of Rome on May 6, 1527, when the Eternal City was invaded by mercenaries of Emperor Charles V; of 189 Swiss Guards, only 42 survived.

It is a most moving ceremony which takes place in the historic St. Damaso Courtyard within Vatican City, in the presence of Vatican officials, political and military representatives of the Swiss Confederation, and many relatives, friends and admirers of the Guard.

The chaplain gives a solemn reading of the oath: “I swear to faithfully, honestly and honorably serve the reigning Pope Benedict XVI and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing, if necessary, even my life to defend them. I assume the same obligations towards the College of Cardinals during the vacancy of the Apostolic See. I swear, so help me God and our Patron Saints.”

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