02 June 2017
Nando Adank, who recently completed a four year apprenticeship as a polymechaniker in the AO Research Institute Davos prototype workshop in Davos, Switzerland, attended his public swearing in as a member of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican on May 6, 2017.
Formed in 1506 and often called the "smallest army in the world" or the "Pope's army", the Swiss Guard have had a rich and storied history. On May 6 in 1527, during a military coup called the Sack of Rome, 147 of the 189 Swiss Guards gave their lives to protect the Pope as he escaped. After surrender, twelve of the remaining Swiss Guards nonetheless chose to join the Papal Guard along with their former enemies, the German and Spanish mercenaries. But it was not until 300 years later when the Papal State and its Papal Guard was abolished that only the Pontifical Swiss Guards remained.
From that day onwards, the Swiss Guards have been solely responsible for protecting the Pope and his residence in the Vatican and his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Besides that, they also perform various ceremonial responsibilities: guarding the Apostolic Palace, keeping vigil at various Vatican checkpoints, and taking part in celebratory masses and events. To commemorate the sacrifice of the Swiss Guards on that fated day in 1527, the swearing-in ceremony of 30-some new Swiss Guards is held on May 6 each year.
Not everyone can aspire to become a Swiss Guard. Each applicant must meet a litany of rigorous requirements:
1. Must be male.
2. Must be Roman Catholic
3. Must be a citizen of Switzerland
4. Must be at least 1.74 meters tall
5. Must be between 19 and 30 years of age. However, a retired guard, who is over 30, may be able to return in exceptional cases.
6. Must be single. However, a guard may be permitted to marry if he is over 25 years of age, has already completed at least 3 years in service, is at least of a Corporal rank, and commits to serve for an additional 3 years
7. Must have a high school degree or a professional diploma
8. Must have completed service with the Swiss army. After getting enlisted, they undergo further training, especially in unarmed combat techniques and in countering terrorist attacks
9. Must commit a minimum of 2 years
10. Must be of great moral and ethical upstanding
When asked about his reasons for spending at least two years as a Swiss Guard, Nando explained that, "I think you should use the possibility as a Swiss citizen. In addition, it is a very good life experience. Also my Roman Catholic faith was an important factor in my registration and I am very honored to be chosen".