DAILY CATHOLIC    Tuesday     May 5, 1998     vol. 9, no. 87

from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO


          VATICAN CITY (CWNews.com) - Pope John Paul II named a new commander for his elite Swiss Guard on Monday, promoting the former second-in-command and acting commander to the post.

          Alois Estermann, 44, is an 18-year Swiss veteran of the 100-member security force that dates back to 1506. The Swiss Guards are often seen guarding St. Peter's Basilica wearing 15th-century uniforms and carrying ancient halberds. A plainclothes detachment also provides personal security for the pontiff and accompanies him at all times. Estermann has been acting commander since his predecessor resigned in October and is one of the few non-noblemen to lead the group. He was one of the guards on duty during the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square by Mehmet Ali Agca, and he threw himself in front of the Holy Father after the shots were fired.

          Pope Guilio II founded the Swiss Guards in 1506 after hearing of the exceptional bravery of Swiss mercenaries. Forty recruits will be sworn in on Wednesday, the anniversary of the death of 147 guards who fell protecting Pope Clement VII in 1527. Recruits for the Guard are Catholic men from Switzerland who have served their compulsory military duty. They must be under 30 years old and over 5-foot-8, and willing to learn Italian.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

May 5, 1998       volume 9, no. 87


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