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Swiss Guards: Foundation for the Future  

The Swearing-in Ceremony for the Pontifical Swiss Guards was a great moment of anticipation for the community around Vatican City. Various figureheads such as bishops, cardinals, political representatives from Switzerland, and ambassadors from various countries to the Holy See were visibly in attendance. Great in number and drawing attention during the evening’s ceremony were also friends and family of the guards.  

Colonel Christopher Graf, Commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, explained, “Parents, brothers, and sisters are the most important people of reference. They offer the young guards the necessary support through prayer. This is very important because they are spending an extended period abroad for the first time, with such a responsibility-laden task.”  

Some of the fathers and brothers in the crowd are current or former guardsmen themselves. During an earlier meeting with the press, some guards and family members shared their thoughts and emotions.  

Thirty-two years since his service in the Swiss Guard, Christian Albrecht is the father of Max Albrect, a current Swiss Guard. When asked if his heart still beat for the mission of the Swiss Guard, he said, “The oath for me is one of the most important days of the year, almost more than my birthday, because it is connected to a memory of friendship. But I must say, it’s beautiful to have now here my son as an active guard, an honor, a pride. There are no words.”  

While for some the oath is already familiar, for many others it is incredibly novel, as these new recruits are the first in their family to serve the Holy Father.  

Alabardiere Gabrielle Scaffetta is a new guard. He shared, “I am the first, and it is a great honor to make this entrance to the family. I’ve been able to join the Swiss Army in other armies as well, but I think coming to this army is the best thing that could have happened to me.  

Alabardiere Nicolas Hirt is another new guard. “They, my family,” he said, “reacted very positively. They were really very proud that I made such a decision, and we were, of course, delighted that they could be there today.”  

Nicolas’s friends had a different response. “At first,” he said, “they thought I was joking with them about joining the Swiss Guard. But then, when I explained what I meant, they understood.”  

Alabardiere Carlo Frey has a family member who is still serving in the Swiss Guard. “My brother,” he shared, “is also in the guard. Last year, when he joined, that was a motivational boost, so I said to myself, ‘Come on, I’ll sign up too,’ and then the whole thing took off. The whole registration process started there. So it’s really nice to still have a piece of home here.”  

Service in the guard lasts at least two years. Afterward, while quite a number of them renewed for extended service, many used this experience to build a foundation for the future.  

Alabardiere Luca Titus, who is finishing up his service, recently proposed to his fiancé, Zoe.  

He shared with us the story of his engagement, “We went to Mass together at our Swiss Guard chapel, and then we went to the gardens, and I proposed to her in front of a nice fountain up in the Vatican Gardens.”  

Even in the midst of his service, he and his fiancé have been able to nurture their relationship. “We’ve called each other every day for two years; there are exceptions, but almost every day. And she was able to come visit often. So that was a blessing,” he said.  

They will “get married back home in Switzerland, near Lake Geneva. We found a beautiful new neo-Gothic church next to the water.”  

Luca’s current post before completing his service involves standing guard outside Pope Francis’s room. Going forward, he plans to continually remember this as a great honor.  

“We are in service in front of his room 24 hours a day,” Luca explained. “Sometimes, he will come out in the morning, and we get to greet him.”  

“We are the first people he sees in the morning. And what was touching to me was always his great kindness, his attention to us,” Luca said. “I still realize that it is very special to be here and that I have to be grateful for it.”  

At the close of the Swearing-in Ceremony, Colonel Christopher Graf said:  

“I would like to extend great thanks to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to our superiors in the Secretariat of State. Their great trust and benevolent support honor us and spur us on in the fulfillment of our duty.”  

Turning to the young guards, he said, “Dear guards, I thank you wholeheartedly for this choice and congratulate you on today’s oath.”  

Adapted by Jacob Stein 

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