VATICAN CITY – The Vatican's Swiss Guards has sworn in 34 new recruits in a colorful ceremony in a Vatican courtyard.
The centuries-old elite group provides ceremonial duty, assists at Vatican functions and helps protect the pope. The guards are famous for their blue-and-gold uniforms, halberds and crimson-plumed helmets.
The ceremony is held each May 6 to commemorate the 147 Swiss Guards who died protecting Pope Clement VII during the 1527 Sack of Rome.
Pope Benedict XVI, in an audience with the guards Friday before the swearing-in ceremony, warned them of what he said is the threat of a "spiritual" sack that leads to the impoverishment of the human soul. The pontiff said this is an "even more dangerous sack."