The Swiss Guard, a group of soldiers founded in the 14th century and charged with protecting the Pope, has opened an account on Facebook to seek out new recruits.
The new effort at recruitment is aimed at increasing the number of men who volunteer to serve in what's known as the “world’s smallest army.”
At the swearing-in of new recruits on Sunday, Colonel Daniel Rudlf Anrig, commander of the Swiss Guard, said, “As free men we provide a voluntary service to the Holy Church, to which less and less people from our homeland are committed.”
He told the new members that they must “faithfully, loyally and honorably serve the Supreme Pontiff,” and should understand that membership in the Swiss Guard is not an ordinary job and that they must have service-oriented mindset.
This year the number of new recruits dropped from 34 to 26. They include 16 Germans, five French and five Italians. The total number of Swiss Guard is usually around 110.
The solemn ceremony on May 6 commemorates the 147 soldiers of the Swiss Army who gave their lives heroically in defense of Pope Clement VII in 1527, during the sack of Rome by German mercenaries.
Members of the Pope’s army must be Swiss citizens, Catholics of upright moral standing, single and between the ages of 19 and 30.
The Swiss Guard’s Facebook page can be seen at: https://www.facebook.com/gsp1506