EWTN Vatican
Swiss Guards - Their Faith and Honor An intimate look into the life of the Swiss Guard 

The schedule of events for Swearing-in the Pontifical Swiss Guards began in the morning with Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.  

It was celebrated by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who gave his homily on behalf of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.  

"May your service be carried out with genuine faith, simplicity of heart, and purity of intention. Willing to work every day to criteria and faithfulness lest you succumb to the enemy's blows and capitulate to his false suggestions," His Eminence preached.  

The 37 new recruits shared this experience with their friends and family present. They will need a spiritual father as they begin this new phase of life at the Vatican: the chaplain of the Pontifical Swiss Guards, Fr. Kolumban Reichlin.  

Regarding his role as chaplain, Fr. Kolumban Reichlin said, "I believe the chaplain can be an inspirer who encourages the young people to stay on the path, to ask questions, to go through life with curiosity. And I want to help them when questions arise, or they are confronted with crises to discover what is behind it all. What is behind it that gives life its meaning, foundation, and goal?"  

"Being a faithful Catholic," he continued, "is required for entering the Pontifical Swiss Guards. Living in the community for at least two years at the heart of the Catholic Church allows them to strengthen their faith."  

Looking beyond the Swearing-in ceremony and into their daily life, EWTN Vatican takes an intimate look into the life of a new guard, Gaetan, before the beginning of his shift at the Swiss Guards' private chapel, the Church of Saints Martin and Sebastian.  

"Before joining the Swiss Guard," Gaetan shared, "I had always been a practicing Catholic, so it didn't change much in that context. The thing that has changed is the consistency. And above all, given that we have orderly and often very regular schedules, it's always a little difficult to keep a daily routine."  

"Personally," he intimated, "how can I talk about spiritual combat as a guard? I think it is common whether one is a guard or not. Having to get up in the morning when you are still tired, not wanting to go to Mass. I think that every Catholic and even every person who has to go to work in the morning knows this."  

"Sometimes," he continued, "it happens to me on the sentinel to have 'moments' as they say. Moments of a little emptiness where we don't know what to do."  

To combat this, Gaetan said, "There is often the opportunity to enter into a dialogue, of entering into a discussion, and of giving oneself completely, to speak with God. Personally, it often helps us."  

The Guards' Chaplain, Fr. Reichlin, is there to help. "I can try," he said, "to inspire them through worship—the service, Holy Mass—through education, and so on. This way, they get ideas they can ponder during long night shifts and questions they can pursue. On average, about one man per year who returns to Switzerland chooses a spiritual path afterward, meaning he wants to study theology or even enter a monastery."  

Accelerating this vocational discernment by modern standards is that each of these young men has already taken an oath, even to the point of having to lay down one's own life for the Pope and the Holy Church.  

Gaetan shared his personal experience in taking this oath. "It is not only a ceremony where we will swear publicly in front of people," he said, "but it is, above all, a personal act that we do. And in the formula, we also mention God and the patron Saints of the Guard in the sense that it is an act before God before it is an act before people."  

"For me," he continued, "it's compelling. I think it's an honor, but also a unique honor that we have as Swiss and Swiss Guards. Firstly, to be able to serve with the Holy Father, and secondly, to be able to make this complete gift of self just in case, and thus be able to serve, whether it's honorary service or orderly service or, let's say, ordinary service, always for the glory of the Church and service with the Holy Father."  

On the next episode of Vaticano, we take you to the Apostolic Palace, where the new Pontifical Swiss Guards receive their first private audience with Pope Francis. We also go behind the scenes to get a closer look at the required training to protect the Holy Father and the Vatican.  

Adapted by Jacob Stein   


Author Name

Anthony Johnson is a filmmaker at the EWTN Vatican Bureau and is Senior Video Producer of the office's Projects Incubator. He is from San Jose, California and a graduate of Gonzaga University where he studied both Classical Civilizations and Broadcast Journalism. He joined EWTN as a Video Editor in 2017 for the "Vaticano" program, and still contributes to the program while working on a variety of multimedia initiatives and documentaries in Rome.

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