Reformer of Swiss Guard Bids Pope Farewell

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 24, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Colonel Pius Segmüller, resigning commander of the Swiss Guard, was received in a farewell visit by the Holy Father today, the Vatican Press Office reported.



The colonel, who for personal reasons handed in his resignation to the Pope a few months ago, has been appointed chief of police of his native Swiss canton of Lucerne.

Segmüller, 47, a former Swiss police and army instructor, has two sons. Four years ago, he was entrusted with the task of reorganizing the papal security corps created by Pope Julius II in 1506.

The Swiss Guard was profoundly shaken after the murder of Segmuller's predecessor, Alois Estermann, and his wife on May 4, 1998. The couple was killed by Cedric Tornay, who then committed suicide, the Vatican said.

Under Colonel Segmüller's mandate, the Swiss Guard has been given new disciplinary and promotion rules, and a new organization.

The Vatican State Secretariat usually elects a new colonel from among the Swiss Guard officers. Final approval of the appointment rests with the Pope.