Every year on the sixth of May, new members of the Swiss Guard are sworn into service in honor of the 147 Swiss soldiers who gave their lives defending the pope during the Sack of Rome in 1527. Given to them is the most powerful weapon in the world, a spiritual weapon.
Colonel Christoph Graf is the 35th and current Commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, appointed by Pope Francis in 2015. Colonel Graft emphasizes the importance of prayer with the new recruits, especially their “most powerful weapon on the market,” the Holy Rosary:
“It is important that we find the path of prayer, especially the prayer of the Rosary. Our life, our works and our actions are in the hands of God. However, this does not mean that we can give up to arms and to exercises. God uses us as instruments to ward off evil in some situations. This is why we need a faith, faith in God and prayer.”
Pope Francis asked the Swiss Guard to dedicate themselves to more prayer during their duty time in recognition of October as the month of Our Lady of the Rosary. Speaking on the recruits developing a deeper prayer life, Colonel Graf said:
“There is always time for this. I assure you that this invitation is being followed. And we will help them to pray to God from our hearts and entreat the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially in this month dedicated to her, that they keep far from us every evil.”
In 2016, 150 “combat rosaries” were donated to the Swiss Guard by Father Richard Heilman of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. All guards were gifted what Graf calls “the rosary for the fight.” They are reproductions of service rosaries issued to soldiers during World War I over 100 years ago in 1916, especially popular with men for their “combat tested” strength.