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Swiss Guard’s birthday was celebrated just few days ago in the Vatican City: 22 January traditionally marks the official recruitment of this corp by the Holy Seat in order to guarantee the Pope’s safety.
A fascinating story is at the origin of these guards’ proverbial loyalty to the chief of Roman Catholic Church: Swiss soldiers were first hired by Pope Julius II in 1506 for his personal safeguard, in a time characterized by basic political unrest. The choice fell upon men-at-arms from the region corresponding to modern Switzerland as since 13th Century they had developed a strong attitude towards military art, which was offering the only alternative to poverty in those ages. Since then statesmes from all over Europe used to count on these well trained soldiers for their own safety. Despite political status of the whole continent deeply changed, the Church did not renounce to this five century old tradition.
Interestingly enough, the Swiss Guards’ colorful attire is not as ancient as their service at the Holy Seat: the current uniform was indeed designed no more than one century ago and is based on drawings by Raffaello.
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