Filipino among newly sworn-in Papal Swiss Guards

May 8, 2023 - 5:46 PM
Sebastian Esai Eco Eviota (center) is among the 23 newly sworn-in members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. (Daniel Ibañez/Catholic News Agency via CBCP News)

The Pontifical Swiss Guard on Saturday welcomed 23 new recruits, including a full-blooded Filipino.

Davao City-born Sebastian Esai Eco Eviota and 22 others joined their ranks in an elaborate swearing-in ceremony at the Courtyard of Saint Damasus in the Vatican.

The men were joined by their families and delegates of the Swiss Confederation and Swiss Bishops.

The ceremony is held every May 6 to commemorate the heroic sacrifice of 147 Swiss Guards who died protecting Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome in 1527.

Prior to the ceremony, the new Swiss Guards celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by a meeting with Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace.

The pope urged the new recruits to make “good use of the time” of service at the Vatican to deepen and put into practice their Catholic faith.

“Every situation, every meeting can represent an opportunity to put the Gospel of Christ into practice, to learn from him and to live fraternal love in his name and with his Spirit,” the pope said.

“Your mission here in the Vatican is a path that the Lord has opened for you to live your Baptism and bear joyful witness to your faith in Christ,” he said.

Born in 1998, the 24-year-old moved to Switzerland in 2009 together with her elder sister on a family reunion visa.

His father, Diomedes, is from Surigao City while his mother Editha, who died in 2000, was from Agusan del Sur province’s Esperanza town.

In Switzerland, Eviota joined the Youth for Christ, the youth ministry of the Couples for Christ (CFC).

Eviota was a second lieutenant at the Swiss Army before he was admitted to the Swiss Guards in January 2022 to complete his basic training.

While Eviota is the second Filipino to be included in the Swiss Guards after Swiss-Filipino Vincent Lüthi, whose mother is from Cebu, he is its first member of full Filipino origin.

The Vatican approved an expansion of the size of the Pontifical Swiss Guards five years ago from 110 to 135 men. Despite the new recruits, it still remains the smallest army in the world.

Founded by Pope Julius II in 1506, the Swiss Guard is a military body made up of Swiss citizens, whose main task is to protect the pope and his residence.

Among their duties are also to accompany the pope on apostolic journeys and to protect the College of Cardinals during the vacant see.