By Hannah Brockhaus
Vatican City, Jun 11, 2022 / 08:30 am
Pope Francis on Saturday thanked an Italian army brigade for one year of service protecting pilgrims to Rome and the Vatican from attack.
“With every exit and return to the Vatican, on apostolic trips, visits to some parish or community, I see you and give thanks to God for your dedication and presence, a garrison of security,” the pope said to military personnel on June 11 at the Vatican.
He met the Grenadiers of Sardinia Brigade, part of the Italian army, and their families as they concluded a one-year station in Italy’s capital city as part of Operation Safe Streets.
Pope Francis meets the Grenadiers of Sardinia Brigade, part of the Italian army, and their families, on June 11, 2022. Vatican Media.
Operation Safe Streets began in Italy in 2008, when armed forces were charged with providing extra security against terrorism or attacks at important political and religious sites and during large public events.
The military men and women are also present at all hours of night and day at several places close to the Vatican.
“As part of Operation Safe Streets, you guard sensitive areas and targets: institutional and diplomatic sites, airports, train and subway stations, places of art, worship and religious interest,” the pope said.
He noted that their presence fosters a sense of serenity in the people of Rome.
“I love to think that your stay in Rome may have been a positive experience for human and professional growth, as well as a fruitful time from a spiritual point of view,” he said, encouraging them to turn to the Virgin Mary “in moments of weariness and difficulty.”
Pope Francis meets the Grenadiers of Sardinia Brigade, part of the Italian army, and their families, on June 11, 2022. Vatican Media
“For my part,” Francis added, “I would like to express sincere gratitude for the discreet and important service you render to the Holy See, in conjunction and jointly with the police forces, for the safeguarding of public order.”
“Your work in the environs of Vatican City contributes to ensuring the serene conduct of the events that, throughout the year, attract pilgrims and tourists from all parts of the world,” he said. “It is an activity that requires availability, patience, a spirit of sacrifice and a sense of duty.”