The Pope’s personal army, the Swiss Guard, gained 40 new recruits on Saturday at the traditional swearing-in ceremony in the courtyard of the Papal Palace in the Vatican.
The event is always held on May 6 each year, the date that commemorates the 147 Swiss soldiers who died defending Clement VII during the Sack of Rome in 1527. On Saturday, the new recruits pledged their allegiance to Pope Francis.
The Pontifical Swiss Guard, which was formed in 1506 by Pope Julius II, is the only Swiss military body permanently allowed to serve abroad since Switzerland’s official political stance of neutrality was established.
Swiss Guard members have to be Swiss, practising Roman Catholics, unmarried, between 19 and 30 years old and at least 1.74 metres tall.