MANILA - A Filipino-Swiss has joined the Pontifical Swiss Guard, becoming the first with Filipino blood to serve as a papal guard in one of the smallest and oldest armies in the world.
Filipino-Swiss Lt. Vincent Lüthi is one of the 38 new members of the corps that took their oath in a ceremony in the Vatican on October 4.
According to a report from CBCP News, the 21-year-old new recruit is the only child of a Swiss father and Filipino mother from Santa Fe in Bantayan Island, Cebu. Lüthi grew up in Cugy, Switzerland.
The Swiss Guards' main duty is to guard and defend the Pope. The army also serves as the de facto armed forces of the Vatican City. During sede vacante or the period when there is no ruling Pope, the army is committed to serve the Sacred College of Cardinals.
The guards also carry out ceremonial duties as honor guards during papal liturgies and other Vatican events like receptions for heads of state and monarchs, and audiences. The guards are easily noticeable in their famous antique blue, red and yellow striped uniforms.
The swearing-in ceremony for new guards is traditionally held every May, commemorating the heroism of 147 Swiss Guards who died in 1527 defending Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome. But due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Italy earlier this year, the ceremony was postponed to October.
Before the ceremony, the Pope met with the new guards and their families. Pope Francis thanked the Swiss Guards for their service and reminded them of their duty to the Church.
"The time you will spend here is a unique moment in your life. May you live it in a spirit of fraternity, helping one another to lead a meaningful and joyfully Christian life," the Pontiff said.
"With His help and the power of the Holy Spirit, you will serenely face the obstacles and challenges of life. Do not forget that the Lord is always at your side: I sincerely hope that you will always feel His consoling presence."
The Pontifical Swiss Guard was established by Pope Julius II in 1506. New recruits are required to be unmarried Swiss Catholic males between the age of 19 and 30 who have completed basic training in the Swiss army. Currently, it has 135 members.