New Swiss Guards sworn in to guard the pope

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2004

VATICAN CITY (AP) Thirty-three Swiss men have pledged allegiance to the pope, becoming the newest members of the Swiss Guards in a ritual-filled induction ceremony held inside the Vatican walls.

Each recruit, dressed in the guards' trademark gold and blue striped uniforms, swore to serve the pope and ''sacrificing if necessary also my life'' to protect him.

Each shouted the pledge in his native tongue: German, French, Italian and Romansch, a descendant of Latin that is spoken in some parts of Switzerland.

The induction ceremony is held each year on May 6 the anniversary of the day in 1527 when 147 Swiss Guards died while protecting Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome.

''It is a demanding commitment and perhaps sometimes tiresome, but God will reward you,'' Pope John Paul II said.

Pope Julius II founded the corps in 1506 because he was so impressed by the bravery of Swiss mercenaries. The guards provide ceremonial guard duty, assist at Vatican functions and help protect the pope.

Starting next year, the Swiss Guards will begin gearing up to mark their 500th anniversary, with a 530-mile march from Switzerland to Rome.

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