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First Swiss Guard of Filipino Descent Joins Elite Force Protecting the Pope

Twenty-one-year-old Vincent Luthi wields the halberd for the Pope. 
IMAGE Vatican Press
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On October 4, some 38 new Pontifical Guardsmen, more commonly known as Swiss Guards, solemnly vowed to serve the Holy Father diligently and faithfully and, if requested, give their lives for him. Among them was Vincent Lüthi, a 21-year-old Filipino-Swiss. It is the first time in history for a Swiss Guard of Filipino descent to count among the Pope’s elite protection force. 

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Traditionally, new recruits to the Swiss Guard are sworn on the sixth of May in the Vatican. The date is significant because it marks the day when 147 Swiss Guards died for Pope Clement VII in the Sack of Rome in 1527. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional swearing-in ceremony for the new recruits was postponed to October 4. 

Pope Francis Greeting Vincent Lüthi

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What We Know So Far About Vincent Lüthi

Vincent Lüthi is a Swiss citizen born to a Filipino mother. According to Radio Caritas Mariae, his mother, Marma Marigomen Luthiis from Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu. Lüthi grew up in the town of Cugy in Vaud, Linden, Switzerland

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According to an official document released by the Pontifical Swiss Guard, Lüthi joined the Swiss Guards on March 1, 2020. He is a Swiss citizen with French ancestry.  

Cugy, Vaud, Switzerland

Photo by Sissssou / Wikimedia Commons.

Lüthi was recruited into the Swiss Army prior to joining the Swiss Guards. He is part of Switzerland’s Panzergrenadier (PzGren) Division where he holds the rank of lieutenant. 

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The PzGren is the modern term for Swiss, Polish, and German mechanized infantry who are trained to be transported in armored vehicles such as tanks. 

Vincent Lüthi Guarding the Pope

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Currently, Lüthi is a Habeldier in the Swiss Guard. Habeldiers wield the halberd or Swiss voulge, a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th to 16th centuries in Europe. 

Lüthi also underwent rigorous training to qualify as a Swiss Guard. In this Instagram post by guardiasvizzerapontificia, the official account of the Swiss Guards, Lüthi is seen in a more subdued uniform for combat training. 

Vincent Lüthi at the Swiss Guard Self-Defense Course  

 

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Brief Background of the Swiss Guard

The Swiss Guard is the official armed forces of the Vatican, primarily tasked with the protection of Popes. They number no more than 135 men. To be a Swiss guard, you must be a Swiss citizen, Catholic, and unmarried, and must be 19 to 30 years old. You must also be part of the Swiss Army and passed the Swiss Army basic training. 

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The Swiss Guard is one of the world's oldest military unit in continuous operation. It was established in 1506 during the reign of Pope Julius II. 

Swiss Guard Halberdier Vincent Lüthi 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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