Photo Gallery Swearing in the Swiss Guards

Almost 500 years ago Swiss Guards bravely defended the pope during the Sack of Rome. The invaders massacred 147 of them on the steps of St. Peters, while the pope escaped. Every year on the anniversary of those bloody events, the latest recruits to the Vatican elite guard are sworn in.
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Papal Swiss Guards marched to the swearing-in ceremony for new recruits in the Vatican on Wednesday.

Foto: DPA
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The ceremony took place at the San Damaso Courtyard in the Vatican City.

Foto: DPA
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The new recruits stand to attention during the ceremony, which is held every year on May 6 to commemorate the Sack of Rome.

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The Sack of Rome of 1527 saw invaders pillage the city and impose a regime of terror for nine months. In their efforts to defend the pope, many of the Swiss Guard were massacred on the steps of St. Peter's.

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A new Swiss Guard take the oath during the swearing-in ceremony. A total of 147 Swiss Guards died as the pope escaped through a secret tunnel to the safety of the Castel Sant' Angelo.

Foto: DPA
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Swiss Guards carry a wreath to commemorate those who died during the Sack of Rome.

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According to protocol, a service is held in St. Peter's Basilica to mark the occasion. The Papal Swiss Guard was founded in 1506 and is the only Swiss Guard still in existence.

Foto: DPA
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The Swiss Guards' Commandant Daniel Rudolf Anrig, who said on Wednesday that the ranks of the world's smallest army may soon be open to women. The elite corps is currently composed of Catholic men hailing from the Swiss Army, aged between 19 and 30.

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