VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2003 (VIS) - Today at midday in the Clementine Hall, the Holy Father received 33 new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard who will be sworn in this afternoon in the presence of family and friends.
In his speech in German, Italian and French, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude to the members of the Swiss Guard "for your loyalty to the Successor of Peter and for the quality of work you do, protecting the order and security of the Vatican territory, and kindly welcoming the numerous pilgrims who ask for your help every day."
After recalling that this afternoon they will swear "to serve the Pope and to especially protect the security of his person and residence," he said: "For my part, every year I am a conscious witness to this commitment, as well as to the faithfulness and generosity of the Swiss youths in providing such a service which shows the attachment of Catholics in your country to the Church and the Holy See."
"I sincerely thank you and I invite you to meditate upon the example of your predecessors, some of whom even gave their life to fulfill the mission entrusted to them to defend the Successor of Peter."
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