The Papal Swiss Guard is actually Swiss. They are mostly from Zurich, Luzern and St. Gallen. The Swiss Guard has been responsible for the Pope‘s security and the protection of the Vatican for around 500 years. Back then, Switzerland was a poor country whose citizens worked as mercenaries all over Europe as there weren’t sufficient jobs at home.
The Papal Swiss Guard’s first and deadliest engagement was on May 6, 1527 fighting the forces of Charles V during the sack of Rome. Their efforts enabled Pope Clement VII to escape the Vatican.
To be a Papal Swiss Guard, you must:
- Be Swiss
- Be Catholic
- Be a man (they aren’t opening it up to women anytime soon)
- Be at least 185 cm (5 ft 8.5 inches) tall
- Be between 17 and 30
- Have a high school diploma or professional degree
- Have completed basic training in the Swiss army
- As you can see from the first photo above, you must also be able to rock a uniform