Papal Bodyguard Retires After 58 Years

One of the most faithful papal servants, Camillo Cibin, is retiring as head of the pope's bodyguards after a 58-year globe-trotting career in the Vatican's security services, the Vatican said Saturday.

Like the late Pope John Paul II, Cibin was a world traveler and often was seen running alongside popemobiles to protect the pontiff during his 104 foreign trips.

Vatican Radio hailed the 80-year-old Cibin for a "career of extraordinary responsibilities," including directing security during the 1962-65 Vatican Council II, which drew cardinals from around the world and set in motion modernizing reforms of the Church.

Last year, a white-haired Cibin kept pace alongside John Paul's vehicle as it carried the pope on his last journey home to the Vatican from Gemelli Polyclinic, a few miles away. A few weeks later, John Paul died in his papal apartment.

Cibin also was nearby in 1981 when a Turkish gunman shot John Paul in a failed assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square.

"There was certainly a day, an hour and a minute in his very long service that Camillo Cibin never wanted to have lived through," Vatican Radio said. "That May 13, 1981, 5:17 p.m., John Paul II fell, wounded and bleeding, in his popemobile."

Cibin accompanied the once-athletic John Paul on hikes in the mountains during the pontiff's summer vacations in the Italian Alps.

Cibin will be replaced by his right-hand man, Domenico Giani, 44, a former member of Italy's financial and customs police who also served in security roles in the Italian premier's office.


Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Loading