Papal Bodyguard Retires After 58 Years

June 5, 2006
Cibin staffed security for popes; headed security for Vatican II

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.

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