Design

Fashion

Men of the cloth— Vatican City

Preface

The Swiss Guards have protected the Vatican since the 16th century and today employ a cutting-edge tailor to maintain their sharp look.

Clothing, Swiss Guards, Uniform, Vatican

In the world of personal security work, it’s rare to see bodyguards taking risks with their wardrobe. Black is, well, the new black, whether it’s for a dull suit for members of a presidential detail or a tight-fitting T-shirt for a beefy chaperon whose task is to shield pop stars from the paparazzi. But the guardians of Pope Benedict XVI, spiritual leader to a billion followers, aren’t ones to shun the sartorial spotlight.

Few visitors to the Vatican can resist snapping a picture of the Pontifical Swiss Guards, the volunteer corps that for five…

History

The Pontifical Swiss Guards is the closest the Vatican has to a standing army. Formed in 1506 by Pope Julius II, the hiring of Swiss mercenaries for protection was not an uncommon practice at that time. In 1527, the corps distinguished itself during the sack of Rome, with many guardsmen giving their lives to save Pope Clement VII – each year on 6 May, the battle’s anniversary, new members are sworn in. Candidates must be Catholic, single males of Swiss nationality.

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