2014-05-05 14:35:11

The Pontifical Swiss Guard through the years

(Vatican Radio) They are the guards that are known the world over for their colourful uniform and their service to the Church and the Pope. But who are the Pontifical Swiss Guard? In order to find out more about this force of men, one has to go back to the Renaissance period and the Pontificate of Julius II.
In 1506 Pope Julius II invited a group of renowned Swiss mercenaries to act as a Papal guard. At this time these mercenaries were in high demand in Europe.
The most significant and blackest event in the history of the guard was in 1527 when 147 members lost their lives while fighting Holy Roman Empire troops during the Sack of Rome. This battle allowed Pope Clement VII to escape to safety through a stone passageway leading from the Vatican.
So what about being a member of the Pontifical Swiss Guard today? Well, In order to be considered for a post there are certain prerequisites such as, one has to be male, a Swiss national, Catholic, unmarried, between the ages of 19 and 30, have undergone rigorous Swiss military training and be at least 174 cm tall.
The Guard wear a Renaissance style uniform that was designed in 1914, and is unmistakable by its colour and shape. It is striped blue, yellow and red uniform; the guards also wear white gloves, and a black beret. There is a blue uniform worn by new recruits for daily duties.
The Pontifical Swiss Guards are usually to be found guarding Vatican entrances, answering tourists’ queries and most importantly ensuring the personal safety of the Pope. Listen RealAudioMP3

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