Swiss Guards: World’s oldest standing army gets new headgear

  • May. 5, 2018 5:40 p.m.

VATICAN CITY — The world’s oldest standing army is getting some new headgear.

The Swiss Guards plan to replace their metal helmets with plastic PVC ones made with a 3-D printer, giving the pope’s army cooler and more comfortable headgear when standing guard for hours at a time.

The Swiss Guards unveiled the helmet prototype before their annual swearing-in ceremony Sunday. Thirty-two new recruits — all of them single Swiss men under age 30 and upstanding Catholics — will join the small corps for a minimum two years by pledging to protect the pope and his successors.

The new helmets won’t be donned Sunday since more formal helmets are used for the elaborate, pomp-filled swearing-in ceremony in the San Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace.

But Swiss Guard spokesman Sgt. Urs Breitenmoser said the Guards hope to replace their existing metal helmets by next year if they can find sponsors to pay for the new ones, which cost around 880 euros ($957) apiece, half the cost of the old ones.

The Swiss Guards are famous for their billowy blue, red and yellow striped uniforms. According to a history on the Guards’ website, the “Gala Uniform” as it is known, was designed by Commander Jules Repond in the early 1900s and is based on the colours of the Medici family.

It’s only one of several outfits the guards wear. Those policing the Vatican’s main entrances don far more sober navy uniforms topped with a snappy beret for their regular shifts.

The corps, which historians consider the oldest standing army in the world, was founded in 1506 by Pope Giulio II. Tradition has it that he was so impressed by the bravery of Swiss mercenaries that he asked them to defend the Vatican. Ever since, for more than 500 years, Switzerland has been supplying soldiers to the Vatican.

The May 6 date for the annual swearing-in ceremony commemorates the day in 1527 when 147 guardsmen died while protecting Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome.

The new helmets won’t protect guardsmen against other such threats, however, since they’re plastic and purely ceremonial. Breitenmoser said they would be used for papal Masses and state visits.

Just Posted

Lee seeks UCP nomination in Red Deer

Eyes Red Deer-North constituency

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Red Deer city council considers new business licence bylaw

All businesses operating in the City of Red Deer will require a… Continue reading

Saskatchewan farmer’s death triggers emotional harvest of love and respect

MILESTONE, Sask. — Volunteers have rallied to harvest the large wheat crop… Continue reading

Councillors want to represent Red Deer at AUMA

City council approves endorsement

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Animal crackers break out of their cages

After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of… Continue reading

Alligator kills woman trying to protect her dog at resort

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — A woman who often walked her dog… Continue reading

Patients redirected as water leak shuts down Edmonton hospital’s emergency room

EDMONTON — Ambulances are being redirected to other hospitals after a water… Continue reading

Parks Canada moves second bison bull that wandered out of Banff National Park

BANFF — Parks Canada says a second bison bull that wandered out… Continue reading

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is scrapping an unpopular lottery system for… Continue reading

Air Canada-led consortium signs deal to buy Aeroplan program from Aimia

TORONTO — A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal… Continue reading

Scheer going to India to ‘repair’ relationship after ‘disastrous’ Trudeau trip

OTTAWA — Six months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy prowess… Continue reading

Police chiefs want new data-sharing treaty with U.S. as privacy questions linger

OTTAWA — Canada’s police chiefs are pressing the Trudeau government to sign… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month