When I posted about the Swiss Guard the other day, it caused me to get into a discussion with a Catholic friend, who accused me of posting a fake photo and lying about the Church. This caused me to embark on a research campaign throughout the Internet, looking for evidence of the modern arms carried by the Swiss Guard. That was not easy. The Catholic Church is largely run by people who know how to keep a secret. Ever meet a Jesuit that couldn’t keep a secret?

Anyhow, during my research, I found quite a few places where people made fun of the guards because of their quaint ceremonial uniforms, and people saying that they must be incompetent. I would point out that those uniforms are CEREMONIAL, were designed by Michelangelo himself, and are meant to be seen as non threatening. Pope Paul the 6th is said to have begun a campaign of making the Guard appear less threatening, to the point where it was suggested in 1968 that the halberds, chest plates, and helmets would be eliminated. That doesn’t mean that the Guard doesn’t know its business. They have guarded the Holy See for over 500 years, and not one Pope has been killed under their watch. That is an impressive record that no other security detail in the world can come close to matching, although they came close to losing that unblemished record when Pope john Paul II was shot in 1981.  

In order to be a member of the Swiss Guard, the applicant must be a Swiss citizen of Roman Catholic faith, be between 19 and 30 years old, have attended the Swiss military academy, unmarried, and at least 174 cm tall. New guards are sworn in once a year, on May 6th.

They carry modern weapons, and by all accounts appear to be a well trained, well equipped force. I may have a problem with the Church’s policies, but the training and record of the Swiss Guard is exemplary.

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1 Comment

Mark/GreyLocke · April 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm

The Swiss guard has their own tactical response teams as well, on call 24/7.

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