On Saturday in the Vatican, the Holy Father received 38 new recruits to the Pontifical Swiss Guard who will take the oath as members of that corps. Family members and friends of the new recruits accompanied them in their meeting with the Pope.
Speaking in German, French and Italian, Benedict XVI pointed out how the Pontifical Swiss Guard has "a long history of loyalty and of generous and dedicated service, sometimes performed even unto the heroic sacrifice of life." In this context, he expressed his gratitude for "your silent but effective presence at the Pope's side. Thank you for the professionalism and for the love with which you undertake your mission.
"Indeed, yours is not just a professional service," he added, "it is also a true mission in the service of Christ and of His Church. The Lord calls you to sanctity, in other words to be His disciples, always ready to listen to His voice, to undertake His will and to accomplish it in your daily duties. This will help to make you 'good Christians' and at the same time 'exemplary soldiers,' animated by that evangelical spirit that makes of all the baptized a 'leavening' to ferment the dough and a 'light' to illuminate and warm the workplace and the home."
"May the Lord," the Pope told the guards, "help you to accomplish your mission with courage and loyalty. To this end, never cease to nourish your spirit with prayer and with listening to the Word of God. Participate devotedly in Mass and cultivate a filial devotion towards Mary. Invoke and seek to imitate your patron saints — Martin, Sebastian and Niklaus von Flue defensor pacis et pater patriae — that they may assist you from above and that you may 'serve the Supreme Pontiff and his legitimate successors faithfully, loyally and honorably' as each of you says in the words of your oath."