Pope Francis Breaks Vatican Rules: Provides Swiss Guard Chair, Snacks

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By Vittorio Hernandez | April 16, 2013 6:06 PM EST

Pope Francis continues to break Vatican traditions, this time it involves the Swiss Guards.

According to reports, the new pontiff left his apartment at Domus Marta and went out into the hall where he found a Swiss Guard standing at attention outside his door.

He asked him, "And what are you doing here? Were you awake all night?

"Yes," the guard answered.

Surprised to learn that the guard had been standing all night, with only a brief break when a colleague relieved him, the pope asked the guard if he was not tired, to which the former replied,  "It's my duty Your Holiness, for Your safety."

The returned to his apartment, and after a few minutes came back with a chair in his hand. "At least sit down and rest," he told the shocked guard, who replied, "Forgive me, but I can't! The rules don't allow it."

He explained he could not because of the rules set by the captain of the guards.

"Oh, is that so? Well, I'm the Pope and I am asking you to sit down," the head of the 1.2-billion Roman Catholic Church replied.

The guard happily complied with the papal bull and even partook of some bread and jam that the former Buenos Aires archbishop known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio also provided him, with the parting words, "Buon appetito, brother."

That incident, shared over Facebook, is one of the many stories indicating how humble and different is Pope Francis from other high and mighty Vatican officials, including his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Besides shunning red Prada shoes, the luxurious papal apartment and a Mercedes Benz popemobile, Pope Francis in his one-month reign, had broken protocol by straying away from his security, breaking barricades and embracing the pilgrims at Vatican Square.

The different style of the pontiff prompted one Italian newspaper to comment that if he continues to break Vatican tradition, it would drive the Swiss Guards crazy.

However, a Swiss Guard who protected Pope John Paul II in the 1980s, admitted that while the pope has to balance security issues with his mission of engaging the public, it is the guards who has to adjust, not the pontiff.

"The first priority of the papacy is not security. The first priority of the papacy is his ministry. Having the pope go in St. Peter's Square and things like that - that's never going to change. That's part and parcel of what he does," WPTV quoted Andreas Widmer, a former Swiss Guard.

Pope John Paul II proved that when despite the assassination attempt on him in 1981, agreed to use a bulletproof popemobile afterward, but refused to wear bulletproof vests in public.

Apparently, the two popes - and even the one in between them - believe more in the armour of God than in man-made protection.

"He doesn't just shake people's hand, he hugs them, he kisses them. And that is an expression of the papacy that is just amazing," Mr Widmer said.

Read also:

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After Catholic Cardinals Elect Pope Francis, Anglican Bishops Name Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury

DreamWorks to Make Film About Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandals

Video Game with Pope Benedict Look-a-Like Causes Furor in Spain

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