Vatican City: The Papal Guard swears in 30 new recruits

Source: FSSPX News

Every year on May 6 the new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard solemnly take an oath on the anniversary of the “Sack of Rome” by the troops of the Emperor Charles V, on May 6, 1527, which cost the lives of 147 Swiss guards of the Supreme Pontiff Clement VII.  This year, in the presence of their families and members of the hierarchy, the diplomatic corps and military attachés, the ambassador of the Swiss Confederation to the Holy See and a delegation of the government of the Canton of Schwytz, 30 recruits officially joined this prestigious corps.

Abp. Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State, recalled that the Pontifical Swiss Guard has existed officially for 508 years and recommended to the new papal guards:  “Since May is the month of Mary, place the beginning of your service under the protection of the Virgin Mary.”  The official birth of the Pontifical Swiss Guard took place on January 22, 1506 when, at sunset, a group of one hundred fifty Swiss men, under the command of Captain Kaspar von Silenen, from the Canton of Uri, entered the Vatican for the first time, through the Porta del Popolo, and received the blessing of Pope Julius II.

Today the cape worn by the Swiss guards is a very dark blue, worn with a black beret.  On special occasions, and therefore as ceremonial garb, the officers used to wear over their short doublet a knee-length doublet.  So they are depicted by Kaspar Röist in the crucifixion scene at Saint Mary’s Chapel in the Teutonic Cemetery.  The material used was generally wool:  Clement IX (1667-1669) granted to the Conservatory for “beggar girls”, where they wove woolen cloth, exclusive rights to provide the material with which to clothe the Guard.  The Renaissance not only lightened the uniform but also enriched it with brilliant colors:  with Leo X, the Swiss Guard added red to the yellow and blue of the della Rovere family, thus forming the colors of the Medicis.  The famous blue-yellow-and-red uniform of the Swiss Guards was created a hundred years ago.  The artist, commissioned by Commander Jules Repond to design it in 1914, was inspired by frescoes by Raphael depicting lanzichenecchi, or Landesknechte [German mercenaries].

The dress uniform also includes a two-pointed cap adorned with a red plume called a morion, a forged breast-plate, a ruff and white gloves.  The traditional arms are the pike or halberd and the sword.

(Sources: apic/VIS/vatican.va – DICI no. 297 dated June 6, 2014)

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