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The Swiss Guard of the Pope turned 509 years last week.
On 22 January fell indeed the anniversary of their hiring at the Holy Seat: it was 1506 when Pope Julius II recruited a guarnison of soldiers from today’s Switzerland for his own safeguard in the Vatican. Since then they kept serving him with loyalty until today, linked to him by an oath which includes life sacrifice and which they didn’t hesitate to respect many times: in 1527, for instance, on occasion of the so called “Sack of Rome”, when out of 189 soldiers, only 42 survived to protect the then Pope. Coming closer to our times, the Swiss Guard mantained its loyalty to the Holy Seat even when the Papal State was deprived of its political and territorial powers by the new born Italian State, in 1861.
A little folkloric note: the Swiss Guard’s old fashioned uniform is not as ancient as we might think, being the fruit of a design which dates back to 1914, when the corp underwent major reforms. The new outfit was inspired to Raffaello’s drawings though, from which thing it derives its clear Renaissance looking.
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