Back in 2013, in the 13th day of March, the Catholic Church was introduced into the newly elected pope. Pope Francis was inaugurated as the new head of the Church and it all happened at the heart of the Vatican City, in the St. Peter’s Basilica. The papacy had been around since the time of Peter and the Roman Empire. As of 2022, there already had been 260 popes recorded since St. Peter, who was considered as the first pope. The popes and the papacy are one of the most important figures and positions in history and in world culture. Even other religions pay respect to the pope and vice versa. Since the pope is such a prominent and controversial personality in the whole world, a lot of people disagree with the concept and some would even go as far as to find ways to harm the pope. With that in mind, the Vatican’s Elite Swiss Guard is born. The Swiss Guard or the Italian Guardia Svizzera is a corps of Swiss soldiers that are responsible for the security and safety of the pope solely. The Vatican’s Elite Swiss Guard is sometimes called the “the world’s smallest army” in the world’s smallest city for there are only 135 active members. Their main responsibility is to be personal escorts of the pontiff inside the Vatican City and the pontifical residence in Castel Gandolfo.
History of Vatican’s Elite Swiss Guards
The Vatican’s Elite Swiss Guard didn’t just spawn out of nowhere, they were chosen through a serious deliberation and process. Before a Swiss Guard aspirant could even have a chance to be part of the consideration, there are other requirements that you must possess. The protection of the papacy is not an easy job and it’s definitely not a common type of occupation. As religion is one of the most polarizing topics in the entire world, the security of one of the heads of the most popular religion in the world is a sworn pledge rather than an employment.
The earliest and firs iteration of the Swiss Guard corps was the Cent Suisses or the Hundred Swiss, but instead of serving the papacy, the first Swiss Guards served the French court from 1490 to 1817. The Swiss Guard also found themselves to have enemies and was disbanded and outlawed by the first Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848 and a federal law back in 1859. With this, the remaining Swiss Guards was the Pontifical Swiss Guards that are based inside the Vatican City. The Vatican’s Elite Swiss Guards are the modern Papal Swiss Guards and are exclusively responsible for the safety of the pope. The modern iteration of the Swiss Guards was established in 1506 and is considered as one of the oldest military units in the whole world. The Pontifical Swiss Guard is now 516-years old.
Who Is The First Full-blooded Filipino Swiss Guard
Being a Swiss Guard is not an easy process and it requires a lot of training and deliberations which will only happen if one passes the initial assessments. This year, Sebastian Esai Eco Eviota, a 24-year-old full-blooded Filipino just completed his two-month training at the Vatican and is now the second person of Filipino decent to be a part of the very elite Pontifical Swiss Guard, the first one being Vincent Lüthi that became a part of the Swiss Guard back in October of the year 2020. Although Vincent was the first Filipino decent, he isn’t the first full-blooded as his father was a Swiss and his mother is from Cebu. Eviota’s journey as a Swiss Guard started back in the 17th day of January of this year through a letter sent to him by no other than the commander of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, Christopher Graf.
Sebastian Eco Eviota was born in Davao City in August of 1998 but then moved to Switzerland back in 2009 with his older sister. Sebastian Eco Eviota’s family is originally from Surigao City. Before being a Swiss Guard, Eviota was formerly a second Lieutenant in the Swiss Army and has served in the Infantry 13th Battalion and that is after completing a two-year course in the army. Before joining the army, Sebastian Eco Eviota or “Baste” as what his family and friends call him, is an avid member of YFC or Youths for Christ in Europe. Not only that, Baste was also a member of the Roman Catholic Community of Canton Berne that is situated at the Bruder Klaus church located in Bern, Switzerland. Baste also completed an apprenticeship as a Hotel Specialist in Bern and before training for the military, has worked as a Customer Service Supervisor at a supermarket chain Migros.
As of now, while serving the pontifex, Sebastian Eco Eviota is currently residing at the quartier Bumpliz in Bern where he resides with his sister, father, and stepmother.
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Sebastian Eco Eviota’s determination to become a part of the Swiss Guard corps was rooted from an early grief when his mother passed away. His family and the adoration to serve the Church had been the prime factors on why he chose this path in his career. His two-month training to become a Swiss Guard had been fruitful and Baste is now one of the 2022 recruits. The 2022 recruits will take their oath on the 6th of May next year where they will be officially honored as a member of the corps.
According to the Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Denis Yap Lepatan stated that it is truly a great honor to have another member of the Swiss Guard that is of Filipino decent.
Becoming a Swiss Guard
If he hadn’t realized it yet, Sebastian Eco Eviota became an inspiration to a lot of the Filipino youth who wishes and dreams of becoming a member of the Vatican’s Elite Swiss Guard. He showed that one can become one of the pope’s protectors and serve the Catholic Church. Being a Swiss Guard is a hard and serious responsibility that is also a “calling” in a way that those few who only have the passion to become one has the ability to actually fulfill the roles and duties.
To become a member of the Swiss Guard, the first requirement is that you should be a male Swiss citizen, you should also be a devoted Catholic and has an age of at least 19 years old up to 30 years old. You should also be unmarried and has a height of not less than 174 centimeters. As for the educational background, a degree or high school diploma is also a requirement. You must also undergo the Switzerland’s mandatory military training. Being endorsed by the local parish priest is also a must.
The Swiss Guards besides being the main security of the Vatican and of the pope are also tasked to carry out ceremonial duties. The recruits are also required to attend Italian language classes and are mostly seen guiding the tourists of the Vatican.
The Swiss Guards are easy to spot as their choice of uniform is unique and different from the others. Their uniform is a colorful ensemble of red, yellow, and blue stripes. These uniforms are called their Gala uniforms and are the most commonly known uniform of the corps. These uniforms are tailor-made to fit the specific guard that they were designed for and takes up to 30 hours to create each uniform.
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