Swiss Guards: Swiss Guards, Italian Guardia Svizzera, a corps of Swiss troops in charge of the Pope's security. They are sometimes referred to as "the world's tiniest army" since they act as personal escorts for the Pope as well as watchmen for Vatican City and the pontifical palace of Castel Gandolfo. The commander of the guard is usually a Swiss officer who is assisted by two other officers and twenty-four soldiers.
The Swiss Guards have been guarding the Pope at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo since 1531 when they replaced the French guards stationed there previously. Although they do not fight each other, members of the different Swiss Guard units will often compete with one another to see which group can guard the Pope longest without a break. In fact, the longest a Swiss Guard has ever stayed on duty is just over five months during World War II. The shortest recorded time is two days.
After being hired, candidates must go through a rigorous training program that includes drill instruction and use of weapons. They also have to pass a medical exam to prove that they are not too sick to work. If they fail the test, they will be replaced.
The job requires extensive physical activity including walking long distances in high heels and standing all day watching over the Holy Father. These factors explain why most people who take this job leave after a few years. However, some have remained in service for several decades especially if they find it interesting to serve in a foreign country.
The Pope has his own army, and they dress oddly. The Pontifical Swiss Guard, a tiny force of roughly 135 Swiss troops headquartered in the Vatican, is in charge of the Pope's safety. They wear red uniforms with yellow buttons and carry muskets or swords. Unlike other armies, they cannot be deployed outside the Vatican City State.
The guard was founded in 1470 by Sixtus IV to protect him while he conducted public business. Until then, the Pope had been personally guarding himself and others around him during attacks. The first soldiers were paid 300 gold coins a year; today they are paid about 1900 euros ($2300) a year.
They follow a strict code of conduct, must maintain their physical fitness, and can refuse service to the Pope if he does not meet their standards. Those who violate the code of conduct are punished by having some of their fingers cut off.
In recent years, the number of guards has dropped significantly because of budget cuts. There are only six officers for every one hundred soldiers, compared to a normal ratio of two officers to three soldiers.
However, they still receive full military training and are expected to fight for themselves if needed.
The Pope also has a medical team that treats any injuries that might occur while on duty.
5. The Pope has his own army, and they look strangely. They are fully armed and ready to fight for their Holy Father.
The truth is that until the late 16th century, the Popes did not have any real way to protect themselves. The Church had many enemies who would do anything to destroy her - governments, princes, kings, emperors... even other churches. So in order for the Church to survive, she needed some kind of defense against these attacks. And since she could not afford to hire large armies (which would be used against her instead), she had to find another way to defend herself.
In 578 AD, Emperor Benedict III gave the Swiss Guards as a gift to the Pope. They were ordered to protect the Pope at all costs, and today they still use the same weapons that they did then, because they know no weapon can harm their Holy Father.
These guards have always been men recruited from among the citizens of Switzerland. They are sworn to protect the Pope with their lives if need be. Today they live inside the walls of the Vatican City State, but once upon a time they were part of the Army of Switzerland.
The Swiss Guard
|Pontifical Swiss Guard|
The current guard serves as the Pope's bodyguard. The Swiss Guard is armed with both ancient weapons like the halberd and contemporary weaponry... Swiss Guard.
|Pontifical Swiss Guard|
|Country||Vatican City Papal States (1506 – 1870)|