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Pope Francis appoints Benedictine priest as Swiss Guard chaplain
Fr. Kolumban Reichlin, O.S.B., the new chaplain of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Sep 1, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

The Pontifical Swiss Guard’s new chaplain is the Swiss Benedictine Fr. Kolumban Reichlin, who completed part of his studies at Saint Meinrad Seminary in Indiana.

Reichlin, 50, was appointed chaplain by Pope Francis on Sept. 1 and will take up his new position in October.

The Pontifical Swiss Guard was established by Pope Julius II in 1506 and is charged with serving and protecting the pope.

Members of the world’s smallest but oldest standing army — known for its colorful striped Renaissance-era uniforms — are responsible for Vatican security together with the Vatican gendarmes.

The Vatican military’s new chaplain entered the Order of St. Benedict in 1991 at Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland. He studied for the priesthood at the Einsiedeln seminary and at Saint Meinrad in St. Meinrad, Indiana, which is affiliated with the Swiss abbey.

Swiss Guards in the Protomartyrs’ Square in Vatican City, May 6, 2015. . Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Reichlin has also studied history and liturgy in Bern, Freiburg, and Rome. In his monastery, he was responsible for pilgrimages and was also a part of liturgy commissions.

From 2009 to 2020, the priest was provost of the Provostry of St. Gerold in Austria, a church and monastery founded in the High Middle Ages, which has belonged to the Benedictine Monastery of Einsiedeln since the 13th century.

New Swiss Guards recruits are sworn in at a ceremony at the Vatican Oct. 4, 2020. . Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

It is believed that St. Gerold may have lived there as a hermit in the 11th century.

Since 1958, the monastery has been used as a church meeting place and educational center hosting art exhibits, musical performances, and seminars.

The Pontifical Swiss Guard has its own oratory inside Vatican City where members regularly attend Mass, and ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms sometimes take place.

The Church of Saints Martin and Sebastian of the Swiss was built in 1568 by Pope Pius V to be the Swiss Guard’s private chapel. It is located just behind the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square on the north side, next to the Swiss Guard barracks and the Apostolic Palace.

Pope Francis has often encouraged members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard to be strong in their faith while they carry out their service at the Vatican.

“The time you will spend here is a unique moment in your existence: may you live it with a spirit of brotherhood, helping one another to lead a life rich in meaning and joyfully Christian,” he told new recruits during an audience on Oct. 2, 2020.