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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May 2005, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
In pictures: Swiss guards sworn in

Pope Benedict XVI and new Swiss Guards

Thirty-one new recruits have been sworn in as members of the Swiss Guard, the elite corp that has protected the Vatican since 1505.

Pope Benedict is shown new papal flag

The swearing in ceremony takes place on 6 May each year, commemorating the day in 1527 when 147 guards died protecting Pope Clement VII as Rome was sacked.

Swiss guard holding baby

All members of the corp are Swiss and Roman Catholic and they serve for a period of at least two years.

Swiss Guard

According to tradition the striped Renaissance uniforms the guards wear were designed by Michelangelo.

Swiss Guard and Pope Benedict XVI

The guards swear allegiance to the Pope - this year recruits took oaths in all of Switzerland's official languages - German, French, Italian and Rumansch.

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