Friday, September 7, 2012

Update from the new Man in Rome

These first few weeks in Rome have been wonderful.  Although the new seminarians here have been busy studying Italian we have had the opportunity to explore the city on many occasions.  As much as I would love to be in Detroit with Sean Farkas rooting on my favorite teams over Labor day weekend I cannot ignore the fact that I have had the blessing of experiencing special moments which have drawn me close to the heart of the Church through Her many saints who have walked these very streets and now rest in many nearby Church's.  Besides, we had a little taste of home when the new men here at the NAC beat the second year men in a Labor day softball game.  I had 2 RBI's Farkas.  It was also great to have burgers and brats on the grill.

These are flame bladed swords. Im not sure what the
practicality of that is but who cares, they are really cool.
Last week we had the opportunity to visit the barracks of the Swiss Guard.  This is a special opportunity the seminarians at the NAC are priviliged to have because the guards use the North American College's soccer field for training throughout the year because it is one of the larger open areas in Rome and very close to St. Peters.  These are a few pictures of the weapons room in the barracks. 
Some of these sets of body
armor are over 300 years old. 
The Swiss guards have served in many roles over hundreds of years but since 1506 they have been the personal guards of the Holy Father at the Vatican.  They were brought to this role because of their reputation for having a superb formation and being highly skilled mercenaries.  They were considered among the most powerful troops of the 15th century.  They have remained with the Holy Father since the request for there full time presence at the Vatican by Pope Julius II in 1506.  Today they are made up of a few hundred young men exclusively from Switzerland and exclusively Catholic.  The young man who gave us the tour said he had been there for two years and planned on returning home after 3 years of service to teach grade school.  But, for those who wish, they have the opportunity to continue by requesting extensions.  Some older high ranking guards have been there for 10 to 15 years and have their families living in the officers quarters with them.  The lower ranking men must remain single.  They have Mass in their personal chapel every day as well.  
They still go through intensive training and trust me, they are all in good shape; I would not mess with any of them.  You may recognize the halberds in the picture to the left.  These are the traditional weapon of the guards which they keep with them when they are on guard duty at St. Peters and I am told that they are not just for show.  Our guide explained that the head of the halberd is designed so that it can be swung like an axe at the enemy or thrust straight like a spear.  If the attempt missed then the guard can pull it back in one motion and as you can see it has some other sharp edges that might hurt.  
The day was not all weapons though.  It was also very cool to hear him speak about the Holy Father and the honor it is for him to have such a duty.  

As always, thank you for your prayers and support.  We could not persevere without them.  In our Lord and our Lady, Seminarian Christopher Jarvis