Military in Vatican City
|Pontifical Swiss Guard|
|Active||22 January 1506–present|
|Size||110 men – One reinforced company|
|Patron||Martin of Tours
Nicholas of Flüe
|Motto(s)||"Acriter et Fideliter"
Bravely and Faithfully
|Colors||Red, Yellow & Blue|
|Engagements||Sack of Rome (1527)|
|Ceremonial chief||Pope Francis|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The responsibility for defending the state from an aggressor lies primarily with the Italian Armed Forces. Since it was founded in 1929, the Vatican City State has never been at war and has only seen anything close to military action when it was bombed during World War II.
Historically, a number of other military units have existed on the territory of the Vatican City State with ceremonial rather than military duties, including the Noble Guard and the Palatine Guard, both abolished by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
The Swiss Guard is a small force maintained not by the Vatican City State but by the Holy See and is responsible for the safety of the Pope, including the security of his habitual formal residence, the Apostolic Palace. It cooperates with the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City, a civilian force maintained by the Vatican City State , in controlling access to the entrances to the city-state, though the controls effected are physically separate.
Pontifical Swiss Guard
The Corps of the Pontifical Swiss Guard or Swiss Guard (Ger: Schweizergarde, Ital. Guardia Svizzera Pontificia, Lat. Pontificia Cohors Helvetica or Cohors Pedestris Helvetiorum a Sacra Custodia Pontificis) is a small force responsible for the safety of the Pope, including the security of the Apostolic Palace. During the periods of "sede vacante" (which is when there is no pope), the Swiss Guard instead guards the College of Cardinals, so as to ensure that the Cardinals, meeting in Conclave, are able to perform their duty in electing a new Pope.
Like various European powers, earlier Popes, during the period of the Papal States, recruited Swiss mercenaries as part of an army. The Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded by Pope Julius II on 22 January 1506 as the personal bodyguard of the Pope and continues to fulfill that function. It is listed in the Annuario Pontificio under "Holy See", not under "State of Vatican City". At the end of 2005, the Guard had 134 members. Recruitment is arranged by a special agreement between the Holy See and Switzerland. All recruits must be Catholic, unmarried males with Swiss citizenship who have completed their basic training with the Swiss Army with certificates of good conduct, be between the ages of 19 and 30, and be at least 174 cm (5 ft 8.5 in) in height. Members are armed with small arms and the traditional Halberd (also called the Swiss voulge), and trained in bodyguarding tactics.
Ranks and insignia
Since 1970, the Pontifical Swiss Guard has been the only active military body on the territory of the Vatican City State. The officers' rank markings and other ranks' rank markings illustrated here are those of the Swiss Guard. The Chaplain of the Guard ranks as a lieutenant colonel. The commandant (who holds the rank of colonel) is a senior member of the Papal Household, and his personal coat of arms or emblem appears at the centre of the standard of the Swiss Guard for the duration of his command.
- Commissioned officers
- Oberst (Colonel – the commandant of the Guard)
- Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel – the vice-commandant)
- Kaplan (Chaplain – considered the same rank as a lieutenant colonel)
- Hauptmanns (Captains)
- Non-commissioned officers
- Feldwebel (Sergeant-major)
- Wachtmeister (Sergeant)
- Korporal (Corporal)
- Vizekorporal (Vice-corporal; closest British equivalent would be lance corporal)
- Hellebardier/Gardist (Halbardier/Guardsman)
|OF-10||OF-9||OF-8||OF-7||OF-6||OF-5||OF-4||OF-3||OF-2||OF-1||OF(D) & Student officer|
| Vatican City
| Vatican City
||No equivalent||No equivalent|
List of former military units owing allegiance to the Pope
- Corsican Guard, a papal militia in Rome active from 1603 to 1662.
- Papal Zouaves, one of the regiments comprised in the army of the Papal States prior to the occupation of Rome in 1870 (abolished in 1870).
- Noble Guard, the papal horse guards (abolished in 1970).
- Palatine Guard, the papal militia (abolished in 1970).
- Papal Gendarmerie Corps (transformed in 1970 into a civilian police corps).
- Index of Vatican City-related articles
- List of countries without armed forces
- Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City
- Corps of Firefighters of the Vatican City State
- Pontifical Swiss Guards, History Archived 2013-10-30 at Archive.is
- Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013), p. 1269]
- Pontifical Swiss Guards, Become a Guard
- "The Swiss Guard - Admission Requirements". La Santa Sede. Holy See. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- See videos at Pontifical Swiss Guards, Gallery