Federal President Guy Parmelin visited Pope Francis in the Vatican on Thursday, May 6th.
In the afternoon he took part in the swearing-in of 24 new Swiss Guardsmen. Because of the pandemic, the swearing-in ceremony took place in the narrowest possible framework and without guest cantons, as the Swiss Guard wrote. Only parents and siblings of the new guardsmen as well as the families of the active guardsmen were allowed to take part in addition to a few selected representatives from Switzerland.The new guardsmen come from the cantons of Aargau, Lucerne, Bern, Nidwalden, Zurich, Valais, Solothurn, Waadt, Thurgau, Graubünden, Ticino, Freiburg and St.Gallen. For the first time, the celebration was broadcast via live stream, from Vatican Radio. “This morning I had the honor of talking to Pope Francis,” tweeted Guy Parmelin on his visit to the Papal States in the early afternoon. He also spoke to Cardinal Secretary Pietro Parolin.
Guard in “Gran Gala”
The Garde presented themselves at the inauguration later in the afternoon in “Gran Gala”, ie in uniform including armor. This is usually only worn for the papal blessing “Urbi et Orbi” at Christmas and Easter.
The body of the Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded in 1506 by Pope Julius ° II. founded, discontinued twice, and only reorganized in 1810. The defense of Pope Clement VII against the numerically far superior Sösdner army of Emperor Charles V at the Sacco di Roma – the sack of the Holy City – in 1527 is remembered. 147 Swiss Guards perished at that time.
The Swiss Guard is still responsible for the Pope’s security today. The guard has been gradually increased from 110 to 135 men since 2018, as the Department of Economics, Education, and Research had announced before the inauguration. A member of the Papal Guard must be Swiss, at least 1.74 meters tall, younger than 30 years, and Catholic. The inauguration of the world’s smallest army always takes place on May 6th – in memory of Sacco di Roma.
Barracks expansion by 2027
In his address, Christoph Graf, the commander of the Swiss Guard, referred to the construction of the barracks, which should be completed on the 500th anniversary of the Sacco di Roma in 2027.
Because the Swiss Guard has increased its staff, the new building will offer up to 60 percent more space but consume 55 percent less energy, as reported by the kath.ch portal, which is closely related to the Swiss Bishops Conference.
A special challenge is therefore the outer facade of the barracks facing Via di Porta Angelica. This is also the border between the Vatican State and the Republic of Italy and should fit into the street scene. For this, they need the green light from Unesco.