Personal protectors of Peter up their training to face threats
“We are prepared” to face the threat of terrorism, declared Christoph Graf, the commander of the Swiss Guard, during their general assembly last weekend in Solothurn, Switzerland, according to a report on the Swiss Catholic website cath.ch. Training has been intensified in order to adapt to the risk.
So far, Italy and the Vatican have not been affected by terrorist attacks from the Islamic State. However, “it can be nothing but a matter of time before such an attack occurs in Rome,” reflected the head of the Swiss Guard.
Faced with this possibility, those who watch over the personal safety of the Successor of Peter are preparing themselves. Their initial training has doubled from two to four months, the website mentioned. Carried out in cooperation with police in the Swiss canton of Ticino, this training particularly focuses on marksmanship and tight security.
Throughout their term of service, which has a minimum duration of 26 months, the recruits of the Swiss Guard commit themselves to protect and serve the Pontiff, even unto the ultimate sacrifice.
New recruits take this oath each May 6, in remembrance of the day in 1527 when 147 Swiss guards were killed during the sack of Rome by mercenary soldiers of Charles V while protecting Pope Clement VII (1523-1534) and the tomb of St. Peter.