Talk:Swiss Guard

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What happened in 1870?[edit]

When the Italian kingdom annexed what was left of the Papal States in 1870, what role, if any, did the Swiss Guard play? Michael Hardy 19:27, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

The Kingdom of Italy annexed what was left of the Papal States in 1870 by invading and occupying papal territory. This invasion culminated in a brief battle for Rome on 20 September 1870. During this battle the Swiss Guard deployed to various locations inside the Vatican in order to defend the papal palace against an Italian assault. Although there was fighting along the city walls, the Italians consciously avoided any military action against the Vatican, so the Swiss Guard did not engage in any combat. Casimiro M (talk) 02:24, 26 October 2010 (UTC)


Their uniforms are worth of mention I think. They were designed by Michelangelo.--Drozmight 11:30, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Unlikely--Vatican website says: "It is commonly thought that the uniform was designed by Michelangelo, but it would seem rather that he had nothing to do with it."

Date uniforms introduced? I changed this from 1915 to 1914 because National Geographic says 1914, and I can't find anything that says 1915.

I read the article and take it that these are the uniforms they wear today? On the Vatican website it states that the Swiss have had a uniform since their introduction into the Vatican.--MrNiceGuy1113 (talk) 19:12, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Ahh... should there be something to debunk the misconception then? I'll add "It is widely believed that Michelangelo designed the uniforms still in use by the Swiss Guard today, however, according to the Vatican, it is likely he had nothing at all to do with it."--Drozmight 15:52, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This seems like a logical change, although I'm not sure you need to put, "according to the Vatican." I think the reference should be sufficient enough.--MrNiceGuy1113 (talk) 19:04, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

World War II[edit]

I read elsewhere that the Swiss Guard kept Nazi troops out of the Vatican during the Nazi occupation of Rome. Is this true? And if so, does anyone know the details? (talk) 16:52, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

When the Germans occupied Rome in September 1943, the Swiss Guard (and other units of the papal armed forces, such as the Palatine Guard) went on emergency alert. This included increasing the number of guard posts. The guardsmen abandoned their halberds and swords for Mauser Model 98 rifles, bayonets, and bandoliers holding sixty rounds of ammunition. These actions were purely precautionary. Although German paratroopers for a time patrolled Italian territory beyond St. Peter's Square, the Germans made no effort to enter Vatican City and there were no confrontations between the Swiss Guards and German troops. At the time, the Guard numbered only around sixty personnel, so it could have mounted only a symbolic resistance to any attack or incursion. In any event, on the day the Germans occupied Rome Pope Pius XII issued an order forbidding the Swiss Guard from shedding blood in his defense. The best source on the history of the Guard is the recent history by Christian-Roland Marcel Richard.Casimiro M (talk) 21:58, 19 April 2008 (UTC)


I did some research on Google, and found that the Swiss Guards are armed with the Sig 75 9mm Pistol specifically. Any objection to adding this to the page where the Sig pistol is mentioned? Matt 10:15, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • Tread lightly. I think expanding on their role in protecting the pope during a very volitile period (in the way of powerful weapons) is important and should be expanded on, but it should not be the focus of the article. Nick Catalano (Talk) 12:20, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)
    • Couldn't tread much lighter than what I did :-) Matt 06:42, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)
      • Ahh. My mistake. You added it to the Sig page. not this page... my apologies... I thought it would be improper on the Swiss Guard page... Nick Catalano (Talk) 05:13, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
        • No, I added the phrase "P 75" to this page, after the reference to them training with their issue Sig handguns. Just thought it might be useful to know what KIND of handguns were issued. I never thought to add it to the Sig page. Matt 09:00, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
          • The Swiss Guard is a very functional military unit, trained in HK submachine gun usage, and all are issued sidearms. Their functional uniforms are grey coveralls and a black beret; only in their ceremonial roles do they wield the halberdier. During WWII, as Hitler moved in Italy, the SG took up positions behind heavy machine guns and mortars, prepared to mount a defense of the Vatican. They are far more than just for show. Talk 09:00, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The grey coveralls are worn only by new recruits during their training exercises. The routine uniform is a black beret, dark blue, white-collared doublet cinched at the waist by a brown belt, and dark blue pants.Casimiro M (talk) 21:26, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Vincenz Oertle, a Swiss historian, wrote a book about the weapons of the modern Swiss Guard. This book is based on his research in the archive of the Swiss Guard and visits to the armory of the Guard. He shows that during World War II the Guard had rifles and pistols, but did not have heavy machine guns or mortars.Casimiro M (talk) 23:18, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

"Not only are the guards fully trained and equipped in modern tactics and weaponry, they also receive instructions in using the sword and halberd." Can anyone source the bit about instruction medieval weaponry? This makes it sound like the Swiss Guard is trained to use these weapons with deadly intent, but I can't find any verification of that at all. I suspect any training with medieval weapons is purely for the nature of drill and ceremony. Rapier42 22:21, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

I think you're right about the training in halberd and sword. Since the ceremonial aspects of the corps' work loom so large, recruits have to be trained in the use of the halberd--marching, presenting arms, etc. Nobody wants a reception of a chief of state to be marred by the clatter of a halberd dropped by a guardsman. Neither the halberd or the sword are intended as first-line weapons. I have been told by an employee of the Vatican that pistols and submachine guns are available at each guardpost. The Swiss Guards on duty at the Porta Santa Ana (the "service entrance" to the Vatican) carry pistols openly on their belts, as anyone who walks by the gate can see.Casimiro M (talk) 18:44, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Official language[edit]

The page reports that German is the official language of the guard, and presents the oath in German. Besides the fact that it seems to me quite strange a police unit speaking a different language from the official one of its country, the oath is given in the guard language: this means that most of the guards speak in German, some in French, and a few in Italian. Would you please check this matter?--Panairjdde 09:07, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It is true that the official language of the Swiss Guard is German. More than half of the Swiss people have German as their native language, so it would be quite impractical to use one of the less common languages. Furthermore it is quite unrealistic that the Swiss Guard should speak the official language of the Vatican City, because that would be Latin. I assume that you meant the most commonly used language in their country: Italian. I think that the Guardians have to understand Italian at least, so that they can communicate with the other people in the Vatican City, but that's only speculation.

If you look at the Annual Report on the official website of the Swiss Guards, you will notice that they switch back-and-forth between the several languages with each page break. While each recruit takes the oath in his native tongue, I think it is safe to assume that they are in fact multi-lingual, as are most europeans. --StanZegel 22:06, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

The Swiss guard actually have to fluently speak at least 6 of the worlds main languages with four of these being - English, Italian, German, and French. (Vanessa Carter 30/10/05)

There is nothing about this in the conditions for admission, and I very much doubt that it is the case. It would be extremely hard to find 100 people in Switzerland who fit the condition of admission AND fluently speak 6 languages. Schutz 14:20, 23 December 2005 (UTC)
I have met Swiss people who speak German, Swiss German, English and French. Switzerland seems to be a country that is excellent at languages. I am sure it is not hard to find men who meet the physical requirement and language requirement. Also, those that need to take an Italian course seems to be what most Europeans would do, learn the language of the country.--MrNiceGuy1113 (talk) 19:23, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
It's true that in multilingual European countries such as Switzerland, it's common for people to speak more than one of the country's official languages (even though I'd like to add that Swiss German is not usually counted as a language different from German; it's a dialect of Standard German, but not a language in its own right). This, plus the fact that many of them will also learn one or more foreign languages, makes them quite poyglot, especially by comparison to American standards of language learning (no offence intended). But believe me, even in Switzerland it would be very rare to find somebody fluent in six or more languages - and even those rare people who do must still satisfy the other requirements, plus they must be willing to enlist for the Swiss Guard (rather than use their linguistic skills to get another, presumably better paid, job elsewhere). It is very unlikely that the Swiss Guard could easily recruit enough people to fill vacancies if fluency in six languages were a requirement - for which we have no evidence anyway. SchnitteUK (talk) 18:45, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

According to the official site of the Swiss Guard (, each Guardian who is serving at an entrance has to participate in an Italian course.ṭ

Estermann Murder Section[edit]

This section seems rather random. Should it have more preface and/or explanation within the paragraph? It seems like someone just copied the section from another article that had previously mentioned some issues that are unclear in this article. I don't know enough about the incident to revise it, but if someone else could fix it, I think the article would be better. Clarkefreak 02:08, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Removed two things:
  1. The "Further information at Mehmet Ali Ağca"; it's an only very marginally related and completely unconfirmed connection.
  2. "It is also of note that Estermann was the first captain commander of the Swiss Guard who was not a noble."—can somebody explain to me what a "Swiss noble" is supposed to be?
Lupo 08:07, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Could we get a mention of who Alois Estermann is in the section? His name is in the first sentence and initially the relation to the whole article isn't clear.

BOOKS. I recommend the book BLOODY LIES IN VATICAN, by a group of Vatican peoples who signed "Disciples of Truth", edited in Italy by Kaos Edizioni. It's original title is, in Italian, BUGIE DI SANGUE IN VATICANO. I don't know if an English version is available. Val

The Oath..[edit] actually all German; there's not a single French or Italian word in it (OK, one or two are very obviously derived from Latin, but that's it, they're still German). Plus the translation of the part the recruits have to say is sort of faulty; "so wahr mir Gott und seine Heiligen helfen" means "may God and his saints help me".. 23:56, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

What's your point? The reason they showed the German oath is because that's what it most commonly given. --KelticKTalk 23:51, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

See Also[edit]

How does the US National Guard relate to this article? --Miked84 23:06, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

Not at all, except for also having "guard" in its name. :-) Lupo 08:38, 23 January 2006 (UTC)


In the article the Swiss Guard entered Vatican City on January 22nd, but according to the January 21st page, it happened on that date.

Moreover, we say the Swiss Guard started fighting in 15th century, but we only speak about 16th century or later events.


Yes, the introductory paragraph is confused. Swiss Guards are/were small Swiss mercenary detachments that serve(d) as bodyguards at foreign courts. Other Swiss mercenary troops fought for many armies but were not "Swiss Guards". The mercenary business started after the Burgundy Wars, i.e. in the late 15th century. The Papal Swiss Guard was the first "Swiss Guard" and, as the article correctly states, became operative in early 1506, i.e. the 16th century. I'll amend that lead section. And January 22 is correct. Lupo 08:07, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
I've fixed January 21 and January 22 regarding the Papal Swiss Guard.
Oops, actually the Papal Swiss Guard was not the first. The Swiss Historical Encyclopedia on the general Subject of "Swiss Guards" says (in French): "En 1497, le roi Charles VIII créait la compagnie des Cent-Suisses de la garde, première unité suisse permanente au service d'un souverain étranger, corps de parade plutôt que militaire, supprimé en 1792 par l'Assemblée nationale, rétabli en 1814 par Louis XVIII et qui subsista jusqu'en 1830." ("In 1497, king Charles VIII of France founded the "Guard of the Hundred Swiss", the first standing Swiss unit in the service of a foreign power, more a parade corps than a military unit, which was dissolved in 1792 by the Assemblée nationale (either the Legislative Assembly or the National Convention), reconstituted by Louis XVIII of France in 1814, and which subsisted until 1830.") There we have the 15th century (by a mere 4 years). Lupo 08:54, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Good job, Lupo! I was wondering if we should shortly write this date (1497) in "Swiss Guard in France", since we cite Guard of the Hundred Swiss. Gala.martin 21:17, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

The Papal Swiss Guard and the Swiss constitution[edit]

The article currently says on the Papal Swiss Guard that it "is an exception to the Swiss rulings of 1874 and 1927". I thought all mercenary services were explicitly forbidden already in article 11 of the 1848 constitution of Switzerland "Es dürfen keine Militärkapitulationen abgeschlossen werden" (its first constitution as a modern federal state). In fact, the Swiss Historical Encyclopedia says (in French): "Comme la Constitution fédérale de 1848 interdisait toute nouvelle capitulation militaire, Pie IX se décida à conclure un accord directement avec la garde. Depuis lors, le recrutement se fait par relations personnelles." ("As the constitution of 1848 prohibited all new military capitulations, Pope Pius IX decided to sign a contract directly with the Guard. Since then, all recruitement is done through personal private channels.") What are these "relations personnelles", and what is the legal standing of a Swiss Guard? Is it viewed (legally) not as a military or mercenary service but as an ordinary employment? May a Swiss citizen legally serve as a mercenary under a private contract (say, in the French Légion étrangère)? I thought not. What about the Papal Swiss Guard? Why the mentions of 1874 and 1927, and what "rulings" are meant? (1874 probably refers to the revision of the Swiss constitution, but I am unaware of that revision having changed anything with respect to mercenary services.) Lupo 08:37, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm no expert on law but it says "Es dürfen keine Militärkapitulationen abgeschlossen werden" meaning that no new mercenary contracts are to be signed. It does not say that older contracts are abolished. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:58, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Papal Swiss Guards vs. other Swiss Guards.[edit]

I think the article should be Papal Swiss Guards and the link from vatican related articles changed. --Gbleem 02:55, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

No. However, if this article grows, we could separate out Papal Swiss Guard and just leave a summary here. The Papal Swiss Guard was nothing special, and in fact rather insignificant in history (maybe with the exception of their role in the Sack of Rome), whereas e.g. the Cent-Suisses have a rich military history. What does make the Papal Swiss Guard special is the mere fact that it still exists today. Lupo 07:03, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Estermann Killing[edit]

This section claims critics attacked Estermann's character. No evidence is offered as to who was supposedly doing this and what they were saying. If a statement like this is used sources and evidences have to be provided. The entire article lacks anything much in the way of sourcing, but this entire paragraph seems for the most part to be POV-pushing. FearÉIREANNIreland-Capitals.PNG\(caint) 22:49, 25 July 2006 (UTC)


no references are listed, and the footnotes dont link properly to refences. Sam Bedggood 06:31, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Was due to vandalism. Reverted now. Lupo 11:14, 14 November 2006 (UTC)


I'd prefer to see the vaguely redundant Image:SwissGuardsatPrefettura.jpg and Image:Vatican 2.jpg removed, as they offer nothing that the main image does not - and some more unique images brought in, perhaps of the murdered officer, the ranks, a procession, something more than a "touristy postcard image" which is better suited to remain on WIkicommons Sherurcij (Speaker for the Dead) 17:50, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Actually, this is not an image of Swiss Guards at the Prefettura Pontificia. The scene is the guard post at the so-called Bronze Doors, an entrance to the papal palace located in the right hand colonnade of St. Peter's Square. The Bronze Doors are the main entry for visitors with appointments in the various offices housed inside the papal palace. This spot is very popular with tourists seeking photos of Swiss Guards on duty. Casimiro M (talk) 18:32, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Family Tradition?[edit]

It appears that the Pfyffer von Altishofen family has a tradition of being the head of the Swiss Guard since the 1500's. It would be interesting to read more about this. --Kimonandreou 15:31, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

"Estermann killing" section[edit]

I notice this was removed by an anonymous editor on 14 January. Granted, the section seems to have been a bone of contention in the past, but it seems somewhat remarkable that there should now be no mention of Estermann at all on the page, apart from in the list of Commanders. One would think that him ceasing to be one ten hours after the appointment as a result of a violent death would be worth a mention! Nick Cooper 22:49, 10 February 2007 (UTC)


Does anyone know how much members of the Swiss Guard are paid? Just wondering, ( 04:06, 11 March 2007 (UTC)) It's 1300€. And they don't have to pay for living and so on. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:32, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Travel Abroad[edit]

Does anyone know - Does the swiss guard travel with the pope?Agatha61 17:43, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

When the pope travels, two or three Swiss guardsmen accompany him as personal bodyguards. These guardsmen usually are graduates of "executive protection" courses organized in Switzerland. The Vatican relies on the Italian police and security services to provide the bulk of protective services when the pope travels inside Italy, and on the services of the host country when he travels to other countries.Casimiro M (talk) 18:22, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

They Get 1300€ a month. Source: Wikipedia page about the swiss guard in german. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:03, 20 December 2012 (UTC)


Are the guards of the Pope allowed to marry? If so, when? The Guard Commander whowas murdered had a wife. I am a neutral editor (talk) 03:02, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

When joining the guard one has to be unmarried, however after 3 years of service and when signing to serve another 3 years and have attained at least the rank of "korporal" one can marry and stay in the guard. (taken from —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:02, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Which is, as a matter of "nice to know", the occasion for women and prospective children to become Vatican State citizens. -- (talk) 09:48, 2 October 2010 (UTC)


I'm just curious, are there any women Swiss Guards? I've only seen pictures of men. Thanks! Kim A M —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:11, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

The Swiss Guard is an all male organization.Casimiro M (talk) 17:12, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Yes, its men only still. Bolinda (talk) 04:29, 20 September 2008 (UTC)Bolinda

Swiss German[edit]


I removed the sentence: "Its official language is Swiss German."

There was no source for it, and it was already discussed in 2005 (see the section "Official language" above).

If there is an official language, it should be precisely noted whether it is Swiss German, Swiss Standard German, Standard German, simply German or something else - according to the cited source, of course.

Thanks for understanding. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 13:43, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Swiss Guard Uniforms[edit]

They look like clowns; I wonder if whoever designed them, did not make them that way to MOCK the church. Italians DO have a wry sense of humor. (talk) 13:58, 13 February 2010 (UTC)stardingo747

Don't be childish. Or did you think 16th-century Europeans got their duds from Men's Wearhouse?

Martial Arts[edit]

Is it true, that the swiss guard is trained in original medieval martial arts with the long sword? This would be the last existiting tradition line of the long sword.-- (talk) 08:54, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Both the halberds and swords are decorative and not intended for use as defensive weapons. The Swiss Guards receive no training in the use of the sword as a weapon. The Guard is equipped with modern firearms and the guardsmen periodically practice with these firearms at Italian police firing ranges. Casimiro M (talk) 02:11, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

Carrying on tradition, the recruits still train to handle swords and the Guard's trademark weapon: a combination spear and battle-axe known as the halberd.

Read more:,2933,351640,00.html#ixzz1pZERjlGm — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:01, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

Swiss in Spanish service[edit]

Sorry to have to delete the good faith edit stating that Swiss Guards served the Spanish monarchy during the 18th century and formed part of the victorious Spanish army at the Battle of Balien in 1808. This appears to reflect confusion with the Walloon Guards first raised in 1704 and recruited from south-eastern Belgium throughout their hundred-year long history. There were six Swiss mercenary regiments in the Spanish Army until after the Napoleonic Wars and some of these did fight at Balien. They were however ordinary infantry regiments and not Swiss Guards or Household troops in any sense. Accordingly they fall outside the scope of the present article. buistR 07:49, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Two Spanish Swiss regiments took part in the battle of Bailén...on the French side: Reding's and Preux's. Many of their soldiers defected to join back the Spanish forces. On the Spanish side there was another Reding's Regiment (both Reding's regiments were named after their Colonel: Nazario and Carlos Reding). On the other hand, the mastermind of the Spanish victory was Teodoro Reding (Theodor von Reding). In 1808 there were 6 Swiss infantry regiments in Spanish service, amounting to 12 battalions. The Preux's Rgt. on paper was from Valais, that at the time was on paper an independent territory. The Wallon Guards also was one of the Spanish units.


I redirected Feldweibel to Feldwebel. That page includes a reference to the spelling difference within the Swiss army.--Gaarmyvet (talk) 01:51, 6 December 2010 (UTC)


Image:Gardes suisses au Vatican.jpg appears to be primarily an image of the "Swiss Guard Band" in that they are carrying musical instruments as well as being armed with swords. Is the band a separate formation? It seems unlikely that a force of 135 would also have to provide a band, but the issue isn't addressed.--Gaarmyvet (talk) 16:14, 14 August 2011 (UTC)


Having read the Vatican section on this page, and then following the link to Military of Vatican City, it appears that the relevant section here is longer than the entire page there. Is there a point to this? Should the two pages be merged? Should this page be trimmed to include only a brief referring paragraph to the more specific page? --Michael K SmithTalk 17:48, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

The question perhaps is which is the more appropriate home for this subject. Either (i) Military of Vatican City which is a relatively brief overview page providing links to specific articles dealing in greater detail with Noble Guard, Palatine Guard and Papal Gendarmerie as well as Swiss Guards; or (ii) Swiss Guards which also covers the Swiss household troops of France and other nations. This would have to be maintained as a separate page if the Vatican section was transferred to another article.
My preference would be to keep the present structure, which arguably gives the clearest and most direct access for readers to whichever guard unit is being researched.Buistr (talk) 05:12, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

Uncited material[edit]

I pulled out some uncited material the other day. Someone restored it, requesting that I add a "citations needed" tag instead. Because that is not how WP:V works, and because the article has already been so tagged for more than a year, I have stricken the material again. When it has inline citations to reliable sources, it should be fine to go back up. — Bdb484 (talk) 14:38, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

The material deleted (essentially the text of the oath taken on enlistment) was incorporated by editor Roper on 6 August 2004. Unfortunately he or she has long since ceased involvement in Wikipedia. Could someone with current knowledge of the Pontifical Swiss Guard provide the inline citation sought? My own contributions to this article have been limited to the French Gardes Suisse. Buistr (talk) 05:29, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I restored the deleted content and add refs from the Holy See. Applying WP:V without checking with Google first is a bit harsh. --Alberto Fernandez Fernandez (talk) 08:10, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Initial Googling yielded what you came up with, which is material from the pope's website. I'm not sure that the Vatican constitutes a WP:RS for this information (or for babysitting). Thoughts? — Bdb484 (talk) 18:26, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Swiss guards are the Vatican state "police" force. So Vatican official website is a reliable source for this factual information. Interpretation or explanation of the oath may need other sources Imho

Alberto — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:35, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

I get that they provide those services for the Vatican, but I'm not clear on whether that makes the Vatican a reliable source, as they aren't really an arm of the Vatican, but something more like an outside contractor. If Bank of America uses Pinkerton Security to load and unload its vaults, Pinkerton may be the official security team for BOA, but that doesn't make BOA the authoritative source on Pinkerton's history. My understanding was that this was an analogous relationship. Is that correct, or is the Pontifical Swiss Guard not actually Swiss? — Bdb484 (talk) 19:49, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
No, it is a military unit of the Vatican which for historical reasons recruits in Switzerland. The Swiss state has no formal connection with it (except for lifting their normal ban on foreign service for Swiss citizens). Thanks for clearing this up Alberto - if the Vatican website is not a reliable source for their own form of traditional wording then what is? Thanks also to Bdb484 for cleaning out the "in popular culture" section. Some remarkably irrelevant rubbish had accumulated there.Buistr (talk) 20:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
To my understanding, they are linked to the person of the Pope and the Holy See and not to the Vatican State. That's why imho putting their oath on wiki article brings an added value to the article. But I want to correct my previous statement about "vatican police force", they are NOT the police force but the personal guard of the Pope (hence the wording Pontifical/Papal Swiss Guards). The civilian police force of the Vatican State (not the Holy See) is the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City. Hope I made my point clearer --Alberto Fernandez Fernandez (talk) 07:31, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
If that's the case, it seems like that would be a good source. Do we have anything establishing that this is the case? — Bdb484 (talk) 16:32, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

Misc. Comments[edit]

Does anyone know - Is the swiss guard the only protection the pope has, or is there any additional security? Jfeckstein 02:43, 6 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I think it is the only official protection. But the italian security forces (police, army etc) do the main job about pope and Vatincan safety. Gala.martin 17:01, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

I found this article stating that the pope is protected by a combination of Swiss guard, Italian police and Vatican police forces.,8599,1950150,00.html--MrNiceGuy1113 (talk) 18:50, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

There's also the Gendarmeria: The Swiss Guard's are responsible for the Pope as a military corps and the Gendarmeria is responsible for the vatican state as the vatican police. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:05, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Removed ceremonial. The Swiss Guard is the pope's main bodyguard and so are not primarily ceremonial.

When visiting Rome in 1955, the priest we visited mentioned a time when 400 Swiss Guards died in battle. When did the limitation to 100 men occur?

In 1979 the Swiss Guard was limited to 100. (talk) 18:54, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

JFeckstein: There is also the Vigilanza, or Vigilance Corps, the Vatican cops.

I, personally, am very very dubious on defining the Swiss Guard as a military; They really are at best an honor guard, and have no practical military capability at all. - Penta 20:05, 24 Nov 2003 (UTC)

  • Agreed. More like a secret service type organization? Protection of the head of state is not necessarily military. Nick Catalano (Talk) 12:21, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The Vigili Urbani or Corpo dei Vigili are disbanded and re-established with alarming frenquency, the Swiss Guard once numbered in the thousands consisting of several regiments drawn from all over Switzerland. The current number is set due to Vatican security being guaranteed by both Italy (thanks to Mussolini) and Switzerland. While the guard is armed with medievel weaponry for its ceremonial duties, it does have access to small arms and other infantry weapons donated to it by other countries. And the troops themselves are trained by the Swiss military. The Italian Carabinieri provide the immediate back up force to the guard and are seen patrolling the more public areas of Vatican City.

Up till the 1930'2, the SG's had several thousand soldiers and other organizations also existed. -- 06:20, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I doubt that the Swiss Guard ever came close to numbering several thousand soldiers, and it certainly did not in the 20th century. At the time of the Papal States the pope had an army that numbered in the thousands (including Swiss mercenaries), but the Swiss Guard that we're talking about, i.e. the pope's palace guard, represented only a specific unit in that larger force. In the 20th century it is unlikely that the SG ever mustered more than 200 men. According to a recent history of the SG authored by Christian Richard (himself a guardsman), in the summer of 1914 the strength of the Guard had fallen to forty men. More normally, the strength of the unit seemed to have been closer to 100.Casimiro M (talk) 19:56, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Does anyone have a picture of the Guard in ceremonial headgear? 10:20, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Oldest Standing Army?[edit]

At the end of this entry, it says that the Swiss Army is the oldest standing army. But within this article, it says that at times, the Swiss Army has been disbanded and was later reestablished years later. This would seem to undermine the claim that it was the oldest standing army since for years, it didn't exist at all. (talk) 16:37, 9 December 2012 (UTC) Are you talking about the Swiss Army or the Swiss Guard? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:50, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Further more the 1st Line Infantry Regiment (1er régiment d'infanterie de ligne) has continuously existed since 1479, unlike the Swiss guarsd or the Yeomanry unit mentioned in the article it still sees active duty. The Wikipedia article on the 1st Line Infantry Regiment also states thatit is the oldest active duty unit in the World. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:11, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

  • Interesting point but I think the Papal Swiss Guard has a more convincing case. There was always a senior French infantry regiment under various names but revolutions and other political changes meant that there were frequent breaks in its lineage and little continuity in term of tradition, personnel, location etc. Buistr (talk) 19:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)


I believe that the content on the Pontifical Swiss Guard deserves to be a separate article. - Presidentman talk · contribs (Talkback) 23:32, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Any article on "Swiss Guards" will inevitably be dominated by the Papal bodyguard as the sole surviving example of this type of military unit. However there is a strong connection between the modern guard at the Vatican and the historic Swiss Guards who served at the French and other royal courts. On the grounds of simplicity and ready access, I think that there is a good case for retaining a single article.Buistr (talk) 01:23, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Splitting would leave an "other than papal" article that would be little more than a stub.--Jim in Georgia Contribs Talk 03:01, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, right now, it looks like a badly-performed merge, so, unless we can retool this article, I'm still in favor of splitting. - Presidentman talk · contribs (Talkback) 19:47, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

I agree! Build up a new wiki page for them! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:25, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

I've come from the RfC, although I'm not an official commenter. I have done some work on the Papal Zouaves and other (admittedly non-military) aspects of the pre-1871 Papal States. My opinion is that there is more than enough in this article for three articles - one on the general phenomena of Swiss merceneries, one on the Pontifical Guard (which really needs its own article) and one on the guards who served the French crown. The fact that these can be interlinked means that there really is not a problem with putting in one article. The current article is rather unbalanced with the article talking about one historical phenomenem (impoverished Swiss men fanning out across Europe as merceneries as a way of life) and another (a small subset of Catholic Swiss men serving in one of the world's smallest armies as a special dispensatiion from their country's government). JASpencer (talk) 22:20, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Oppose I agree with Buistr that the article, as is, has a nice blend of history and current practice (although it still needs a fair amount of work). All the best, Miniapolis (talk) 22:30, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

On reflection I have come to agree that a split would tidy up coverage of two essentially separate topics (sorry Miniapolis!). My own contributions have been almost entirely to the "French and others" section of the article which could remain in its present form down to the "Papal Swiss Guard" sub-heading, with appropriate links. Note that there is a third article on Swiss Mercenaries which covers the phenomenon of poverty leading to foreign soldiering in terms of both the free companies of the 15th-16th centuries and the Swiss line (i.e. non-guard) regiments in foreign service of the 17th-19th centuries. Buistr (talk) 02:02, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

Comment - [from uninvolved editor invited by RfC bot] This is a borderline case. Relevant guidelines include Wikipedia:Summary style, Wikipedia:Content forking and Wikipedia:Article size. The size of the article (readable prose text) is only 17 kB, which is not very large (60 kb is large; 100 kb should be split for sure). So size alone does not suggest a split. Another issue is WP:Notability ... but the proposed new article clearly meets notability threshold. So, it boils down to what is best for readers. I think either way is fine: split or leave merged. However, if they were split, it seems that the remaining article (non-pontifical) would be rather small. (As an aside: it looks like the Pontifical SG section used to be its own article, and was merged into this article at some point in the past ... is there some story there?). --Noleander (talk) 20:49, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

  • Support This force is significant given that it is the oldest military force still in existence. I believe there is plenty of present-day sourcing, as well as older sourcing, and the force was featured prominently in the Dan Brown novel Angels & Demons. People would expect this force to have its own article.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 06:31, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Support The Pontifical Swiss Guard is sole remaining element of the historical Swiss Guard in the popular imaging of Swiss Guard in this day, this age. It deserves its own article.Whiteguru (talk) 10:10, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Let's get it done! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:23, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Sure, it is different. but do we really have to create a whole other article? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:26, 16 February 2013 (UTC)

Oppose Although different, there's no need to split the article to create a new one. The current article is not so long, and the differences between the two corps could perfectly being exposed here, in different sections.--HCPUNXKID (talk) 15:25, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

Oppose - doesn't warrant new page. Good blend of the past and present. Buzzards-Watch Me Work (talk) 21:13, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Support They are two really distinct articles. One part is about troops that have been disbanded by centuries, the other is about a group that is still in activity Eccekevin (talk) 02:27, 22 January 2016 (UTC)


An IP editor did us the favor of updating the number of years the Guard has existed. Is there a template that's supposed to do that?--Jim in Georgia Contribs Talk 13:46, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

SWISS regiment in Waterloo Campaign 1815[edit]

You might want to add that one Swiss regiment served in the Waterloo campaign in 1815. They suffered heavy losses in the last French victorious battle in the Napoleonic era- at the Battle of Wavre, June 18, 1815. They served in Grouchy's detached army wing --Joey123xz (talk) 02:51, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

True but they weren't Swiss Guards - rather a composite unit made up of the remnants of the four Swiss line regiments that had served Napoleon from 1803 on. I think that you will find reference is made to them under the article Swiss Mercenaries. Buistr (talk) 03:30, 28 November 2014 (UTC)