The Swiss Guard and the “Combat Rosary”

ORIGINAL Published on: May 7, 2016

Here is something extremely cool.

First, you may recall that last year we had a project to help one of the Swiss Guard have custom armor made.  HERE   I’ve stayed in touch with the Guard and his wife.

Then I got another project going, with the essential aid of my good friend Fr. Richard Heilman, who has been featured in these electronic pages often.   He took his parish to ad orientem worship and the numbers of attendants increased.  He put in an altar rail and moved his people to receive on the tongue.  He implemented Summorum Pontificum.  We just had the bishop there for Ascension Thursday.  He is the state chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and has many other things going, including something advertised on this blog on the side bar, his “combat” Rosaries, which he has made.  Super-tough Rosaries.

Now to the project.

At my prompting Fr. Heilman sent the gun-metal rosaries to all of the Swiss Guards.

Today, during his address to the new recruits about to be sworn in, the Commandant held up one of them during his address and told them that training and arms are necessary, but “the most important weapon is the ‘combat rosary'”.  (Some of the speech – below.)

Is that not cool?


Yes, that’s cool.

More later on this.


Start at about 18:00.  The Rosary itself is held up at 20:37.

16_05_06_Swiss_Guard_Rosary_03From ACISTAMPA:

CITTÀ DEL VATICANO , 07 maggio, 2016 / 11:00 AM (ACI Stampa).-
“Al momento giusto, all’inizio dell’anno, un generoso donatore ci ha sorpresi con un regalo. Egli ha fatto pervenire alla Guardia Svizzera Pontificia l’arma più efficace che esista sul mercato: il “combat Rosary”, letteralmente, il rosario per il combattimento. Subito è stato dato in dotazione a tutte le guardie. È importante che ritroviamo la via della preghiera,soprattutto la preghiera del Rosario.

La nostra vita, le nostre opere e le nostre azioni sono nelle mani di Dio. Questo però non significa che possiamo rinunciare alle armi e alle esercitazioni. Dio ci usa come strumenti per scongiurare il male in alcune situazioni. Per questo servono una fede salda, fiducia in Dio e preghiera”. Così il Colonnello Christoph Graf, Comandante della Guardia Svizzera Pontifica, ha salutato il Giuramento delle nuove reclute, ieri pomeriggio nel Cortile di San Damaso.

[My translation…] In the right moment, at the beginning of the year will a generous donor surprised us with a gift. He had shipped to the Pontifical Swiss Guard the most powerful weapon that exists in the market: the “Combat Rosary”…. They were immediately given to all the guards.  It is important that we recover the way of prayer, especially the prayer of the Rosary. Our life, our works and our actions are in the hands of God. This doesn’t mean, however, that we can give up arms and drills. God uses us as instruments to thwart evil in certain situations. For this we need a firm faith, trust in God and prayer.

[Here’s a bit more of his speech, which I transcribed from the video.]

During a morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, Pope Francis said, “faith is victory”. Last year in an audience granted in the occasion of the swearing of the new guards, the Holy Father invited the young men to dedicate themselves evermore to prayer even during their duty time. There is always time for this.  I assure you that this invitation is being followed. And we will help them to pray to God from our hearts and entreat the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially in this month dedicated to her, that they keep far from us every evil.

Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service tweeted…

On another note…

This is great, but even greater would be YOU praying the rosary, whatever your rosary looks like.

If you don’t pray it, it’s just … there.  Right?




Great image…

Combat Rosary GI black and white

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JeffLiss says:

    Unsolicited product endorsement: I have carried a combat rosary in my pocket every single day for two years — right in there with car keys, loose change, a phone, and whatever candy wrappers and goodness-knows-what-else one of my kids manages to deposit in there. While I sometimes regret the indecorum of Our Lord on the Cross rattling against my phone when it’s on vibrate, I’m glad to have a rosary that can be my constant companion because it is INDESTRUCTIBLE. I have not made a single deposit to the family Repository of Broken Rosaries since purchasing it. I remember, when I first received it, taking it out of the package and being impressed by its solidity and heft. It feels like a weapon — like fine Toledo steel…in bead form. Dubious metaphors aside, I highly recommend it.

  2. Deo volente says:

    I too have a combat rosary. I love the crucifix, the medal of St. Benedict and the story behind it. It is indeed indestructible. What a marvelous idea for the Swiss Guard! I believe every man should own one especially all those in the military!

  3. Adaquano says:

    I received one for my birthday last year from my parents, it never leaves me.

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    LOL! WOW! Someone make that a meme, the picture of the Guard with the words ” the most important weapon is the “combat rosary'” on it.

    This is advertising gold.

    I do know a person who broke a combat rosary by tangling it in his bicycle. Lucky he didn’t break his neck. (Father Heilman knew this young man and replaced it free).

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    What a superb photo, the Swiss Guard holding up the rosary. The rosaries sound well made.

  6. Royse87 says:

    Mine has survived a deployment to afghanistan, a dozen or so airborne operations and countless field exercises. It still looks exactly like it did the day i got it. Great rosary.

  7. RAve says:

    I saw this advertised somewhere on the internet recently and right away I ordered 2 to be awarded to the students being honored with an annual leadership award that we give in memory of our son. Much better than any trophy or plaque! And I know my son would approve, too. I got them in the mail this week and was so happy with the quality and beauty.

  8. Stephanus83 says:

    I converted to the Catholic faith last year and my Priest gave me a silver combat rosary as a gift. My confirmation saint is St. Benedict so the St. Benedict medal is attached. I also purchased a St. Stephen medal and attached it. I have had it in my pocket constantly for the last year that I’ve been Catholic. This rosary has been, and will always be, a constant companion for me. I’m in the military, so I really like the fact that a similar rosary used to be issued to U.S. Soldiers.

  9. Healingrose1202 says:

    That is awesome! What a great idea for a graduation gift!

    My niece is graduating from High School next month and will be going far from home for college. She was raised being bounced around to many Evangelical Christian churches. Despite being an excellent student, Christian, and overall, a great young woman, I worry that she will face spiritual combat like she has never before. I was planning on getting a rosary and having it blessed, so she can have it with her. This combat rosary would be perfect!

  10. Father G says:

    Video of the ceremony:
    The combat rosary is shown at minute 20:37

  11. frjim4321 says:

    Something about “prayer as a weapon” is confusing for me.

    [Imagine my surprise!]

  12. TheDude05 says:

    I sadly have caused a few injuries to my combat Rosary through daily carry, the latest being the separation of pull chain link from bead, but it is easily repairable. Prayer is the ultimate weapon in the spiritual warfare for the souls of men, the Rosary is the assault weapon of prayer, and the 54 day Rosary Novena the atom bomb of prayer.

  13. Mike says:

    Prayer is the first and essential Divine weapon in our unceasing personal battle against sin and ignorance which, paradoxically, can only be vanquished through confession of our weakness and surrender to the Divine Will. By contrast, willful wallowing in the confusion bred by Modernism (or any other error) is but futile appeasement of the Enemy, whose appetite for the destruction of souls is whetted—but never satisfied—by our refusal to do battle against sin with the weapons our Creator gives us.

    Spiritus adjuvat infirmitatem nostram: nam quid oremus, sicut oportet, nescimus: sed ipse Spiritus postulat pro nobis gemitibus inenarrabilibus.

  14. JeffLiss says:

    For Elizabeth D —

    Combat Rosary right to bear arms

  15. Fr. Jim: “Something about “prayer as a weapon” is confusing for me.”

    Hint: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Thus, “prayer as a weapon” against the forces of evil in this world.

  16. Allan S. says:

    I led an apostolate that made and shipped over 2,000 “combat Rosaries” to Canadian Forces deployed overseas. These were made by volunteers according to accepted mil spec: nonconductive, low vis, no noise paracord and plastic beads and crucifix, in matching camo colours (black/green, brown/tan and even black/white for Arctic deployed troops). Shipped blessed with the tradition Rosary prayer inserts by the Knights of Columbus., and a Holy Card of Our Lady.

    These combat Rosaries look very nice too, but our guys didn’t want metal ones. So long as the troops have one and know how to use it…that’s the most important thing. The Rosary IS a weapon, often overlooked by the enemy.

  17. Sonshine135 says:

    I love my combat rosary. I got it as a gift at Christmas and added an Air Force St. Michael medal and the leather pouch as well. I’ve never had a sturdier rosary, and I’m hard on them. They are very well made, and wi the pouch, I don’t worry about it slipping out of my pocket. I can’t stress the quality enough, and enjoy praying it.

  18. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    A quick visit to the concordance yields:

    Romans 13:12 arma lucis, 6:13 arma justitiae Deo; 2 Corinthians 6:7 per arma justitiae, 10: 4 arma militiae nostrae […] potentia Deo; Psalm 34:1-3 Judica, Domine, nocentes me; expugna impugnantes me. Apprehende arma et scutum, et exsurge in adjutorium mihi. Effunde frameam, et conclude adversus eos qui persequuntur me; dic animae meae: Salus tua ego sum.

  19. Nan says:

    I made a rosary for a priest and mailed it to hm with a note that said “I like my priests to be armed and dangerous.”

  20. Semper Gumby says:

    Great photos and translation Fr. Z. Classic post and comments.

    In the movie The Longest Day, from Cornelius Ryan’s superb book, there is a tale about a young US paratrooper in England just before D-Day. He won several thousand dollars in a crap game in the barracks. Walking back to his bunk with a pile of cash he informed his buddies that he was going to spend it on wine and women when he got to Paris. When he got to his bunk he opened a letter from his mother and a Rosary fell out. After a bit of interior struggle, he got back in the crap game until he lost that money.

    Next we see him inside a C-47 over the English Channel inbound to Normandy. The Rosary is around his neck. He digs out the Crucifix from under his shirt and gear, kisses it, and puts it back. A paratrooper sitting next to him sees this and apparently doesn’t know what to make of it. The Rosary paratrooper survived the jump and D-Day. Unfortunately, according to his daughter, Paratrooper Arthur Schultz had a rough time of it after the war.

    The Combat Rosary and Confession, as we all know, are very important. Again, great post and comments. And JeffLiss well done with that photo and caption.

  21. Semper Gumby says: The Longest Day… a letter from his mother and a Rosary fell out

    If memory serves, we spot a Rosary and its recitation in Band Of Brothers aboard the C-47 as they flew to Normandy.

    I can’t watch that sequence – the load up, take off, the fade to Eisenhower’s message, the flak – without a shiver or two.

  22. john_6_fan says:

    I’ve had my silver Combat Rosary for a couple of years. I carry it everyday and pray with it almost every day. I’ve lost too many Rosaries that I loved over the years. For this one, I bought one of those Tile locators to keep with it in the Rosary case. It has helped me find it several times!

    I really like the gunmetal version. I may have to get a second one now…

  23. Mary Jane says:

    frjim, reading a good account of history of the Battle of Lepanto (while enjoying some Birra Nursia) might clear up that confusion for you.

  24. MAJ Tony says:

    I recall a scene in the invasion in “Saving Private Ryan” where a guy was hunkered down behind something saying a rosary, look of sheer terror on his face. Having walked Omaha Beach at low tide, which is some 3-400 meters from water’s edge to the “shingle,” I can only imagine how anyone would have felt in the circumstances.

  25. Amerikaner says:

    Here’s an idea:

    It would be great if there was an official association of the faithful tied to the Swiss Guards. One would join and pray a rosary weekly for the Swiss Guards and say a daily prayer for the Guards and the Holy Father. One could even donate and the money would go directly to the Guard for their needs.

    I think this would be particularly great as 99% of men cannot join the Swiss Guards but would love to be affiliated in prayer and support.

    Anyhow… my two cents.

  26. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z and Maj. Tony: I agree, the C-47 and landing-craft scenes in those two movies are intense. It is always a relief when those soldiers plant their boots on solid ground and begin to have a say in the matter at hand.

    Eisenhower’s D-Day speech starts: “You are about to embark upon a Great Crusade…” He titled his WWII memoir “Crusade in Europe.” Interesting word choice.

    One scene in Band of Brothers shows a paratrooper reading a copy of Eisenhower’s speech while waiting to board a C-47. That paratrooper was “Wild Bill” Guarnere. He lost a leg five months later in the Battle of the Bulge, wrote a book with “Babe” Heffron after the war, and died in 2014.

    Another classic movie scene, from another Cornelius Ryan book – “A Bridge Too Far ” – shows Lt. Col. Julian Cook, played by Robert Redford, leading his battalion across the River Waal in Holland in Sept. 1944. Lt. Col. Cook recites the Hail Mary as he and his unit row boats across the river under heavy fire. Lt. Col. Cook was later awarded the DSC, second only to the Medal of Honor.

    The Longest Day has several scenes with priests and military chaplains. At the beginning of the movie a French priest reminds his parish about liberation and deliverance. A Nazi officer monitoring the priest sits silently in the pew. (This brings to mind Fr. Z’s Mit Brennender Sorge podcast from March). There are also several good scenes in The Longest Day involving military chaplains who jumped into Normandy with British and American paratroopers.

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  28. benedetta says:

    I did read this post, and scrolled through it a couple times en route to other recent posts, without comment, and still, several times today, in traffic, menaced by goons with huge (I mean laughably large) ostentatious rosaries swinging from rear view mirrors, trying desperately to get my attention by doing seriously unsafe and threatening things on state six lane interstates. It’s getting dangerous out there. No wonder people are flocking meetings to apply for concealed carry lately everywhere.

  29. Charles E Flynn says:

    From Padre Pio on the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary:

    Concerning the Rosary, Our Lady herself said to Padre Pio: “With this weapon you will win.” Convinced of the power of the Rosary, Padre Pio always held the Rosary in his hands. When his death was approaching, he recommended the Rosary to his spiritual children by saying: “Love Our Lady and make her loved. Always recite the Rosary.” 

    Padre Pio always wore the Rosary around his arm at night. A few days before his death, as Padre Pio was getting into bed, he said to the friars who were in his room, “Give me my weapon!” And the friars, surprised and curious, asked him: “Where is the weapon? We cannot see anything!” Padre Pio replied, “It is in my habit, which you have just hung up!” After having gone through the pockets of his religious habit, the friars said to him: “Padre, there is no weapon in your habit! . . . we can only find your rosary beads there!” Padre Pio immediately said, “And is this not a weapon? . . . the true weapon?!” 

  30. Rosary Rose says:

    I would love to drink Mystic Monk coffee from a mug with JeffLiss’ design while praying my daily rosary.

  31. Philmont237 says:

    I asked the company that makes these if they could make a “Special Operations” version of the Combat Rosary. Instead of chain, it would be made with parachute cord, which would keep it indestructible but stealthy. I carried a parachute cord rosary when I was assisting the Jordanians reinforce their borders in preparation for an ISIL invasion that never came (DG!). I now carry a Combat Rosary, but I would not have wanted it in Jordan, nor would I want it in actual combat should I ever find myself in that situation. They loved the idea and are doing research into it. I am very thankful that they are doing this.

    The Combat Rosary also clinks pretty loudly when I am sitting with my two year-old daughter while trying to put her to sleep. A cord rosary would be perfect for the same reason. Putting a toddler to sleep is a kind of combat as well!

  32. Philmont237 says:

    This is my rosary. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

    My rosary is my best friend. Its prayer is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

    Without prayer, my rosary is useless. Without praying my rosary, I am useless. I must pray my rosary true. I must pray earnestly to defeat my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must expel him even as he tempts me. I will…

    My rosary and I know that what counts in war is not the words from our mouth, the pain in our knees, nor the length of our prayer. We know that it is the prayer from the heart that counts. We will pray…

    My rosary is a warrior, even as I, because it is an extension of myself. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its beads, and its medals. I will keep my rosary clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…

    Before God, I swear this creed. My rosary and I are defenders of my soul. We are the masters of our enemy. And Christ is the Savior of my life.

    So be it, until victory is Christ’s and there is no enemy, but peace!

  33. AP says:

    I wish I could upvote the comment left by Philmont237 ^^^ 100 times!

    For those of you who don’t understand the reference, click here for a video clip from Full Metal Jacket (does not contain any expletives):

  34. dandre1974 says:

    Let me give yet another “+1” to this rosary. I am very, very hard on rosaries (I average 4 or so a year). However, since changing my “daily carry” to the Combat Rosary over two years ago I haven’t even knocked the shine of it! Truly a remarkable rosary.

  35. PNeri says:

    I love my silver combat rosary. an old zippo lighter with the wick etc removed makes for a perfect EDC rig.

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