Images from the Canonization of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II by Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. This event, attended by millions is amongst the most important in current history.
The Pontifical Swiss Guard (also Papal Swiss Guard or simply Swiss Guard; Latin: Pontificia Cohors Helvetica; Italian: Guardia Svizzera Pontificia; German: Päpstliche Schweizergarde; French: Garde suisse pontificale; Romansh: Guardia svizra papala) is a minor armed force and honour guard unit maintained by the Holy See that protects the Pope and the Apostolic Palace within the territory of the Vatican City. Established in 1506 under Pope Julius II, the Pontifical Swiss Guard is among the oldest military units in continuous operation.
The dress uniform is of blue, red, orange and yellow with a distinctly Renaissance appearance. The Swiss Guard are equipped with traditional weapons, such as the halberd, as well as with modern firearms. Since the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, a much stronger emphasis has been placed on the Guard's non-ceremonial roles, and has seen enhanced training in unarmed combat and small arms.
Recruits to the guards must be unmarried Swiss Catholic males between 18 and 30 years of age who have completed basic training with the Swiss Armed Forces.
The unit's security mission is complemented by the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City.