he force provides ceremonial duty, assists at Vatican functions — and has a real function of actually protecting the pope. The guards, armed with halberds, are ubiquitous around the Vatican and are among the favorite targets of photo-snapping tourists. They have not been called to military duty in recent centuries. But several Swiss Guards in plainclothes are aboard the pope’s plane during his worldwide travels to provide security. After the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, the Vatican beefed up bodyguard training for the guards — including instruction in unarmed combat and small arms.
Next Colorful Costume