“The Colorful Uniforms” at the Vatican

What comes to your mind when somebody talks about Vatican? Popes, St. Peter’s museum or even the famous novel “Angels & Demons” by Dan Brown?  They’re all true but not the whole story about this tiniest sovereign state in the world.

Swiss Guards at Vatican City

Situated on the western bank of the Tiber River within Rome, Vatican City is the spiritual centre of Roman Catholicism. It has been recognized as an independent and autonomous city-state within Italy in 1929. In addition to overwhelming feeling when standing in front of St. Peter’s square, you will be irresistibly distracted by the good-looking Pontifical Swiss Guards, one of hidden allures inside the gorgeous beauty of the ancient Vatican City. Known under another name as “the Colorful Uniform” force, these guards are responsible for the Popes’ safety as well as the Apostolic Palace’s security. Let’s discover their legend narrated by The Finest Magazine.

Who they are

Pope Francis and his Swiss Guards

The Pontifical Swiss Guard was formed on January 22nd, 1506 by Pope Julius II. At that time, Swiss warriors built a reputation for their proverbial loyalty and noble intentions since they worked for various European royals as brave mercenaries. Therefore, Pope Julius II decided to recruit these soldiers to watch over his safety and residence.

Colorful uniforms of Swiss Guards

Driven by their specific role and responsibilities, each soldier in the Pontifical Swiss Guards have to pass through a rigorous selection process. Therein, candidates must be single Catholic men under 30 years old with at least 5ft 9in tall, having Swiss nationality as well as completing two-year training in Swiss Guards. They are also required to get through a number of tests regarding physical prowess and military capabilities to become official members of this Corps.

How they look

Daily uniforms of Swiss soldiers

Travellers will be attracted by the colorful uniform of soldiers standing guard outside Vatican City from their first trip to this city. Despite unique appearance, this legion is also renowned as one of the best-trained military forces around the world. The Swiss Guards’ daily uniform includes blue doublets and berets while the colorful distinctive uniforms in Renaissance style will be dressed on grand occasions. There is no doubt that such combination of blue, red and yellow is inspired by traditional colors of the stripped Medici family that used to be a powerful and influential family in Europe from the 13th to 17th century. It is highlighted nicely by the white of the collar and gloves and topped by a large black beret or a Renaissance-styled helmet. The entire ensemble with each piece is custom-made to fit its wearer.

Warriors on a parade

Unlike other armies, the Pontifical Swiss Guard carries halberds as their traditional weapons beside modern firearms such as handguns and machine guns.

What they are assigned

Soldiers escorted Archbishop Georg Ganswein in President Barrack Obama’s trip

Watching over the safety of the Pope and his residences is the principal mission of the Corps. Additionally, they are also responsible for further duties which include escorting the Holy Father on his travels, protecting the College of Cardinals during papal transitions and the state of Vatican City as well as performing other security and honorary services.

Soldiers standing guard outside Vatican City

Today, there are more than 100 Swiss Guards serving in Vatican. Most of them spend from two to three years working in here before coming home. However, some former guards can return to the Corps under certain conditions.

Travel tips

Ceremony of new recruits on May 06th every year

You can admire these good-looking soldiers everywhere in Vatican without taking some photos with them. Additionally, you may also witness the annual swearing-in ceremony of new recruits when you visit Vatican on May 06th every year.