Pope Francis has inaugurated the new command centre of the Pontifical Swiss Guard at the Vatican. About 100 Swiss soldiers are based there to protect the Pontiff.
In the Pope’s speech on Monday, he said that their work was an expression of the sense of solidarity that characterises the presence of Catholics in society.
“Through your work, therefore, you are a concrete testimony to the ideals of the Gospel, and within Switzerland’s social fabric you are an example of solidarity and compassion,” said the leader of the Catholic Church. Roman Catholics account for about 38% of the Swiss population. Since 1506, Swiss soldiers have been stationed near Rome to guard the Pope and his palace.
The Pope also thanked the two Swiss foundations that provide financial, material and technical support to the Pontifical Swiss Guard. The presidents of those foundations – former cabinet minister Pascal Couchepin and former Swiss National Bank present Jean-Pierre Roth – also attended the ceremony.
Although it has been in use since the beginning of this year, the official inauguration ceremony was on Monday. Now the Pontifical Swiss Guard is planning to renovate its barracks. The building, which dates back to 1825, does not meet the current requirements of the troops, nor does it comply with today’s building regulations.