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First Filipino joins pope's elite Swiss Guards

Philippine Church and people voice pride after Vincent Luthi takes oath to protect pontiff

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First Filipino joins pope's elite Swiss Guards

Vincent Luthi and his parents meet Pope Francis at the oath-taking ceremony at the Vatican on Oct. 4. (Photo courtesy of Marma Luthi)

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Filipino church authorities and churchgoers have sent prayers and congratulations to the family of Lieutenant Vincent Luthi, a Swiss national born to a Filipino mother, who has become one of Pope Francis’ newest guards.

Luthi is one of 38 new Swiss Guards who swore an oath to defend Pope Francis on Oct. 4 at the Vatican in Rome.

The Pontifical Swiss Guards, more commonly known just as the Swiss Guards, were established in 1506 by Pope Julius II to protect popes and the apostolic palace.

The Swiss Guards, one of the world’s oldest military units, are known for their blue, orange and yellow uniforms worn with their traditional medieval weapons.

New recruits must be unmarried Swiss Catholic males aged 19-30 and must have completed basic training with the Swiss armed forces.

“We, Filipinos, rejoice young Filipino Vincent Luthi joining the guards … Not everyone has the honor to protect the pope. This is a great honor as well as a great responsibility,” said Catholic nun Imee Cayabao of Puerto Prinsesa Diocese in Palawan province.

Sister Cayabao said Luthi should serve as an inspiration to many Filipino youth groups to serve and love the Church despite society being dominated by materialism and individualism.

“Vincent Luthi should serve as a model on how the youth should be willing to defend not just the pope but the Catholic faith in general,” she said.

The 22-year-old Luthi was born to a Swiss father and Filipina mother from Cebu City in the Visayas region.

Although he was born in Switzerland, Luthi’s mother said she had raised her son according to Filipino Catholic tradition.

“We may be living in Switzerland but my son is very much Filipino in terms of faith. This, I think, is the major reason why Vincent decided to join the Swiss Guards,” his mother Marma Luthi said in an interview.

She also said that it was a dream for her son to serve the pope.

Pope Francis, during the closed-door oath-taking ceremony, expressed his welcome and blessing to the new recruits.

“The oath you will take is a declaration of fidelity to your baptismal vocation. The time you will spend here [at the Vatican] is a unique moment in your life. May you live it in a spirit of fraternity and a meaningful and joyful Christian life,” Pope Francis told the recruits.

“The presence of your family members expresses the devotion of Swiss Catholics to the Holy See, as well as the moral education and good example by which parents have passed on to their children the Christian faith and the sense of generous service to their neighbor.” 

Bishop Rex Andrew Alarcon of the Commission on Youth said Luthi’s assignment was a  “strong and brave” vocation men must take.

“Serving the pope and the Catholic Church is more than a job. It is a vocation. May many young Catholics see their work or jobs as a vocation — a calling from the Lord in fulfillment of his mission on earth,” he said.

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