Swiss Guard Announces New Recruiting Offices in Switzerland

The newly-created Liaison Office will represent the interests and concerns of the Swiss Guard Corps to various authorities and politicians.

Newsroom (03/09/2022 12:40 PM Gaudium PressThe Pontifical Swiss Guard is expanding its presence in Switzerland by creating a new Press and Liaison office for authorities to support the growing number of guards.

Due to the 2015 increase in the number of Pontifical Swiss Guards needed for service to the Pope and the Vatican, from 110 to 135 men, the need for a more robust annual recruitment process has grown.

The Guards, therefore, decided to establish a public relations office in Switzerland to provide better support for the recruitment process.

The goal of the Press Office is to offer a more direct point of contact for Swiss media and the various partners of the Swiss Guard, such as the Pontifical Swiss Guard Foundation, the Barracks Foundation, and the Association of Former Swiss Guards.

The newly-created Liaison Office will represent the interests and concerns of the Swiss Guard Corps to various authorities and politicians.

With the creation of an active public relations network, the Pontifical Swiss Guard hopes a more expansive recruitment process will support the Guard’s expansion.

The new head of media

The head of the Media and Liaison offices will be 57-year-old Stefan Wyer.

A native of the canton of Visp, Switzerland, Mr. Wyer has been working with the Swiss Guard for several years.

Since 1 July 2022, he has been an independent corporate communications and politics consultant.

As head of the Press and Liaison offices, Stefan Wyer reports directly to the Commander of the Swiss Guard, Mr. Christoph Graf, and works closely with the Chief of Information and Recruitment (IRS), Mr. Bernhard Messmer.

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Over the past few years, the Swiss Guard has attempted to change the perception that those who enlist are merely another tourist attraction at the Vatican, standing with their distinctive halberds in hand. At the same time, foreigners snap selfies beside their colourful uniforms and feathered hats.

Instead, the Guard has sought to emphasize the military and weapons training members are required to have and the fact that they accompany the Pope everywhere he goes, including on foreign trips.

New recruits are sworn in each year on 6 May, marking the date in 1527 when 147 Swiss Guards lost their lives defending Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome. Only 42 guards survived the massacre, and the swearing-in date was explicitly selected as a reminder of what they must be willing to sacrifice when pledging their oath to protect and serve the Pope.

The Guard – whose members pledge to “faithfully, loyally, and honourably” serve and protect the Pope and, if necessary, give their lives for him – keep watch over the Pope at his residence in the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse, and they also provide security at public events and for visits of heads of state and other dignitaries to the Vatican.

Service of the Swiss Guard

The Pontifical Swiss Guard is one of the smallest armies in the world, founded by Pope Julius II in 1506.

They are responsible for the protection of the Pope, both inside and outside of the Vatican.

The corps includes young men from all regions of Switzerland.

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In 2015, the Swiss Guard grew from 110 guards to 135 to meet an uptick in requests.

To be accepted in the Swiss Guard, recruits must meet specific criteria.

They must be male, a Swiss citizen, a practising Catholic, single, and between the ages of 19-30. Young men who enter must commit for at least 26 months, and they must also be athletic, in good health, and stand at least 5 feet 8 inches tall with an “unblemished reputation.”

Recruits must pass a series of health exams to be accepted, including a psychophysical test evaluating their ability to handle stress. They must also have completed the Swiss Army Recruit School, familiarizing them with the military and how to form camaraderie in close quarters.

Training for new guards lasts two months and is divided into two parts.

Since 2016, new members have undergone intensive training with the police in the Ticino canton of Switzerland after completing their medical exams in Rome.

The training courses in Ticino include studying specific aspects of psychology and law, as well as tactical military training and lessons in other areas such as fighting fires, CPR, shooting, and self-defence with “restrictive and containment techniques,” as sports and measures for personal safety.

In the second part of their training, Swiss Guard recruits return to the Vatican to learn more practical skills, including Italian language lessons and getting to know the layout of Vatican City itself and the people they will encounter daily.

Their knowledge of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace and the people employed in each of the Vatican’s offices are tested weekly.

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Recruits also undergo further military training exercises and conduct drills for marching, alone and as a team, and on use of the halberd they carry while on duty.

The guards are expected to practice “continuous learning” throughout their time in the tiny army and undergo several checks and tests throughout their time in the Vatican, including formal language exams and an annual athletic test.

  • Raju Hasmukh (Via Vatican News and Crux Now)


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