Reminded of killings, new Swiss Guards sworn in at Vatican

VATICAN CITY (AP) — New members of the Vatican’s Swiss Guards swore their allegiance to Pope John Paul II on Sunday in an austere ceremony that recalled the recent slaying of the guard’s commander.
Raising the thumb, index and middle fingers of the right hand, each recruit to the 100-member papal army, which protects the pope and performs ceremonial functions, shouted a pledge to serve John Paul.
The ceremony for the 37 recruits to the corps, whose Michelangelo-designed uniforms and plumed helmets add brilliant color to ceremonies and tourist photographs, was supposed to be May 6.
Instead, their newly named commander, Alois Estermann, and his wife, Gladys Meza Romero, were buried on that day. The couple as shot to death May 4 by disgruntled guardsman Cedric Tornay, who then took his own life.
John Paul did not attend Sunday’s ceremony, nor did he make any reference to it a couple of hours later during his weekly appearance in front of tourists in St. Peter’s Square.