NH man guarded Pope who became a saint today
Mario Enzler, who served with the Vatican's Swiss Guard from 1989 to 1992, chats with then-Pope John Paul II, who will be canonized today in Vatican City. Enzler, who now lives in Stoddard, was assigned to protect the Pope. (COURTESY)
Mario Enzler is shown during his time in the Swiss Guard. (Courtesy)
Mario Enzler won't know what it feels like to be among them, but as a former member of the Vatican's Swiss Guard, he knows what it feels like to have protected a soon-to-be saint.
He served in the Guard from 1989 to 1992, meeting world leaders, including U.S. Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa; they were all humbled and small in John Paul II's presence.
As the canonization approached, Enzler was flooded by memories of John Paul, including a day in which the Pope, having passed Enzler at his post, walked back to him and handed over his rosary. The Pope said to Enzler, "The rosary is my favorite prayer, marvelous in its simplicity and profundity. Take this rosary and make good use of it."
"I go to the Lord because I'm a man of faith, but I go to the Lord through John Paul II most of the time," Enzler said.
"Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself with not what you tried and failed in, but what is still possible for you to do."
"I was born in Italy of an Italian mother and Swiss father," Enzler said.
Enzler grew up Catholic, but didn't take his faith that seriously as a youth, he said.
"That's the 'Bella Vita,' is what we say in Rome," he said. "My motivation at the beginning was not to go down and protect the Pope."
The first time he met John Paul II and shook his hand, the gravity of his position hit him; Enzler wasn't in Rome to impress the girls.
"This man is special. This man is something I need to understand," Enzler recalled thinking.
"John Paul II impacted my life in profound ways, laying the groundwork for my becoming a husband, father, businessman, teacher and most importantly a practicing Catholic. It was his leadership that inspired me, his charisma that gave me hope, and his words that provided direction to my life," Enzler said.
Enzler said serving his community is a calling he has now because of John Paul II. "I am serving this community because I learned how to serve by serving a saint."
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