Vincent Lüthi: Swiss-Filipino makes it to Vatican elite corps

The Pontifical Swiss Guards induct Vincent Lüthi. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE VATICAN PRESS

Filipinos are everywhere, be it in royal palaces and stately homes, luxury hotels and hideaway resorts, festive cruise ships to lonely cargo barges. They reside in pulsating capital cities and remote rural villages, from isolated, wintry Antarctica to vast farmlands in Australia.

A friend used to endearingly say while on travel, “You turn a corner, you’ll meet a Pinoy.”

And today, one is a member of the extremely exclusive Swiss Guard, a post that even among the Swiss remains highly-regarded and coveted.

His name is Vincent Lüthi and this is his story.

Born to a Swiss father and a Filipino mother Marma Marigomen Lüthi, from the municipality of Santa Fe in Bantayan Island, some 140 kilometers northwest of the capital Cebu City, Lüthi was raised in the quaint hamlet of Cugy in Vaud, Linden, Switzerland.

The 22-year-old Swiss-Filipino is a member of the Panzergrenadier Division of the army, where he holds the rank of lieutenant.

“For the first time, the Vatican has sworn in a Swiss with Filipino parentage as member of the Swiss Guard, the elite corps of soldiers who protect the pope,” a report by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) stated.

Officially known as the Pontifical Swiss Guards, but more fondly called the Swiss Guards, the force was established in 1506 by Pope Julius II to protect the pope and the apostolic palace. Today, they are known as one of the world’s oldest military units.

Unmarried Swiss Catholic males between the ages of 19 to 30, who have completed basic training with the Swiss Armed Forces, may have the opportunity to don the iconic blue, orange and yellow regalia, coupled with traditional weapons.

Lüthi currently serves as a Halberdier, where he wields the halberd or Swiss voulge, a two-handed pole used as a weapon in the 14th to 16th centuries in Europe.

He was among the 38 new recruits who have been sworn in during the last quarter of the past year at the San Damasus Courtyard at The Vatican.

According to revered tradition, the induction ceremonies are held exactly on the sixth of May of each year. This commemorates the Sack of Rome — the day when 147 Swiss Guards died for Pope Clement VII in 1527. However, this was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the initiation rites, Pope Francis said, “The time you will spend here is a unique moment in your life. May you live it in a spirit of fraternity, helping one another to lead a meaningful and joyfully Christian life.”

“The oath that you will take the day after tomorrow is also a declaration of fidelity to your baptismal vocation, that is, to Christ, who calls you to be men and Christians, protagonists of your existence,” St. Peter’s successor said.

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