Saturday, February 27, 2010
The Swiss Guards protect the gates of Vatican City daily.
They are responsible for the safety of the Pope. The force has served popes since the 1500's, has varied greatly in size over the years and has even been disbanded. The uniform of the guard was influenced by the paintings of Raphael, not Michelangelo which is the usual impression. It has varied over the years but now weighs 8 pounds, the heaviest of any uniform existing today! The customary uniform is tri-colored with boot covers, white gloves, a high or ruff collar, and either a black beret or the more formal silver for special occasions. Sergeants wear a black top with crimson leggings, while other officers wear an all-crimson uniform.
Since the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II's life, the guards are now trained in small arms. In addition to carrying the 'rapier' sword, they now also have pistols and sub-machine guns at their disposal.