The Vatican’s Swiss Guard is the smallest army in the world and is responsible for the security of the Pope and the Vatican City. The guard is made up of 110 soldiers who are all Catholic men from Switzerland between the ages of 19 and 30 who have completed basic training with the Swiss military. The Swiss Guard was formed in 1506 by Pope Julius II, who recruited a company of soldiers from the Canton of Schwyz in Switzerland to serve as his personal bodyguards. They have served as the Pope’s official bodyguards ever since.
The guards are easily recognizable by their colorful Renaissance-era uniforms, which include a blue, red, orange, and yellow striped tunic and a distinctive plumed helmet. The guards also carry halberds, which are a type of spear with a curved blade, as a weapon. The Swiss Guard are not only responsible for the security of the Pope but also the Papal Palace and other Vatican buildings, including the Vatican Museums. They also serve as a ceremonial escort for the Pope during public events and state visits.
How to join Vatican’s Swiss Guard?
To enlist in the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, one must meet the following requirements:
- Be a single male, Catholic, and a citizen of Switzerland.
- Be between the ages of 19 and 30.
- Have completed basic training with the Swiss military.
- Have at least a high school education.
- Be at least 5 feet 8 inches tall.
- Be in good health, physically and mentally.
- Be willing to commit to at least two years of service with the Swiss Guard.
The process of enlistment starts by sending a letter of application along with a copy of the required documents (birth certificate, baptismal certificate, certificate of Swiss citizenship, and a certificate of military service) to the Commandant of the Swiss Guard. The applicant will then have to pass an interview with a Swiss Guard recruiting team, after that, he will have to pass a physical examination, as well as a psychological evaluation. If the applicant passes all of these evaluations, he will be accepted into the Swiss Guard and will begin his training.
It is worth noting that the process of enlistment is highly competitive and only a small number of applicants are accepted each year. Additionally, due to the small size of the force, it is not a full-time career but rather a temporary engagement for two years, after which the guards can re-enlist for another two years.
Did Vatican’s Swiss Guard participate in any conflicts?
The Vatican’s Swiss Guard has not participated in any armed conflicts since it was formed in 1506. Its primary role is to provide security and protection for the Pope and the Vatican City. The guards are responsible for the security of the Papal Palace and other Vatican buildings, as well as serving as a ceremonial escort for the Pope during public events and state visits.
However, there have been instances in the past where the Swiss Guard were called upon to defend the Pope and the Vatican during times of crisis. The most notable instance was the Sack of Rome in 1527, when the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V invaded Rome and sacked the city. The Swiss Guard, which at the time numbered about 200 men, fought bravely to protect Pope Clement VII, but were ultimately overwhelmed by the much larger imperial army. Many of the guards were killed, and the Pope was taken prisoner.
The Swiss Guard has also been involved in other historical events such as during the French Revolution, when Pope Pius VI was taken as a prisoner to France, the Swiss Guard continued to protect the Papal Palace.
Overall, the Swiss Guard’s primary role is not to participate in armed conflicts but rather to protect the Pope and the Vatican, and to serve as a ceremonial escort during public events and state visits.