May 6 is a Swiss celebration in Rome

A short history lesson on the origins of the Pontifical Swiss Guards for the curious.

This year, the Pontifical Swiss Guards celebrate 510 years of loyal service to the Pope. On May 6, new recruits will be sworn into service in the Vatican, an event witnessed by thousands of visitors.

When I first saw the Swiss Guards of the Vatican ten years ago, like many other tourists who had never seen them before, I was intrigued by their nature. Clad in colorful uniforms as if they were still living in the Renaissance period, they also did not look like the rest of the Romans.

Instead of the dark hair, dark eyes and olive-skin tone of the charming Italians, these young men were clearly lighter-skinned, sometimes blond, often blue-eyed and most of the time just standing still.

I met my husband on that trip to Rome. He was, at the time, in the service of the Swiss Guard. Mind you, we did not meet when he was standing still, or in uniform. But I did get briefed on the origins of the guards.

And since the Pontifical Swiss Guards, or Guardia Svizzera Pontificia, celebrates their 510th anniversary of service to the Pope this year, let’s have a short history lesson to commemorate.

Where did it all begin?

Continue reading this article here on Newly Swissed Online Magazine.

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