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Vatican Swiss Guard

Vatican Swiss Guards

Vatican Swiss Guards are posted at the Sistine Chapel portico entrance.

A new Lightroom Creative Cloud workflow for me! Italian Holiday II 

Here is a second installment to my Italian Holiday. With so many rare vistas and people, it’s taken a long time to cull and sort the hundreds of photos, then prep them to show. This more than anything causes me to finally commit to shift my workflow toward Lightroom to capture efficiencies. I’ve been taking courses and learning from photographers like Matt Kloskowski, Jared Platt, and RC Conception who made the shift a long time ago. It’ll slow me down for a while then hopefully will result in better organization, much faster turn around and processing. Stay tuned. Here’s hoping, here goes . . .

Fashion forward with the Vatican Swiss Guard

The Vatican Swiss Guard is the second oldest military regiment in the world and arguably the best-dressed. During the Renaissance Switzerland was a poor country, so much so that Swiss youth found careers selling their devotion, strength and courage as mercenary soldiers all over Europe and into the Asian east. They fought for warlords and kings, popes and nobles, cities, states, and nations. Their reputation as fierce and loyal fighters grew over the centuries well into the modern era until the Swiss Cantons outlawed the practice of outsourcing their best and bravest young men. Today Switzerland is a wealthy nation that grew itself out of poverty through a larger world view brought home by returning Swiss Guards.

How the Swiss Guard came to Rome

In the 16th century Pope Julius II connived his way into the papacy and fought decades long Italian Wars to consolidate his power. In 1506 fearing for his personal safety, Julius requested 150 Swiss soldiers be sent to Rome to protect not only himself but his entourage and his residences. Today the only Swiss regiment in the world is the 100 member Vatican Swiss Guard under the authority of their newly appointed commander, Colonel Christoph Graf. They serve tourism’s purpose decoratif but they are so much more than that!

Decorative yes, but so much more

To serve as the Pope’s bodyguards in the Vatican Swiss Guard you must be a unmarried male, Roman Catholic, Swiss citizen with at least a technical-professional or high school diploma, having trained and completed service in the Swiss army, 5’8″ or taller, able to prove irreproachable, good character, and having sworn fealty to the Pope, willing to trade their own life for his. They’re trained in the use of the 6th century halberd and sword seen above. But underneath their strikingly beautiful uniforms they now train in unarmed as well as small arms combat. They carry Glock and Sig handguns under their fancy clothes and use Heckler and Koch submachine guns. The Papal Swiss Guard has indeed fought valiantly to save their popes including the attack on Pope John Paul II in May 1981 that led to modernization of their training and more recent attacks against Pope Benedict XVI.

 About those fancy clothes!

The uniform weighs 8 pounds and is constructed of more than 150 separate pieces! They’re individually constructed to order for each Swiss Guard member in Vatican City. It was once thought that Michelangelo designed the Swiss Guard uniforms and his young protege Raphael has also been credited. A 16th century fresco by Jacoppi Coppi of Pope Sxtus III shows the Guardsmen wearing a distinctly Renaissance precursor to the current style that was designed in 1914 in the heraldic colors–red, blue, yellow, and orange–of the ancient della Rovere and di Medici families. More images and historical details may be found at Wikipedia.