Women could join the Swiss Guard at the Vatican for 1st time: reports

(Photo: Vatican Media)Swearing in of Swiss Guards at the Vatican on May6, 2021.

For the first time in 500 years, women could be allowed to join the iconic Swiss Guards who protect the Pope at the Vatican.

Reports suggest the idea has emerged as the barracks are being upgraded, which should be completed by 2030, World Radio Switzerland reported April 8.

Currently, the set-up means the guard cannot accommodate women.

But WRS reported that the former Swiss president, Doris Leuthard, chairs a Swiss committee overseeing the new construction of the guards' barracks.

She says it's hoped the new building will be able to house women, but it has to be approved by the Pope.

WRS said reports suggest that Pope Francis would be open to it, but he is now 87 years old and frail, and it's not sure if his successor will willing to move forward.

The Pontifical Swiss Guard received 34 new recruits at a swearing-in ceremony at the Vatican on May 6, with Swiss President Viola Amherd also in attendance, Reuters news agency reported.

During the traditional oath taken in Italian, German, and French, the guards swear to protect and defend the Pope and all his successors, and put their lives on the line for that.

The official ceremony took place in the Courtyard of Saint Damas at the Apostolic Palace in Rome, in an austere but festive atmosphere, in the presence of their families.

The guards wore the colorful "Gran Gala" ceremonial uniform – including an armor suit also worn for the traditional papal blessing "Urbi et Orbi" at Christmas and at Easter.

It was Pope Julius II that founded the Swiss Guards in 1506. Often dubbed as "the world's smallest army."

Founded in 1506, the Swiss guards - separate to the Swiss Armed Forces - are hired by the Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of the Pope.

Members of the all-male unit swear loyalty to the Pope in a ceremony at the Belvedere Court in the Vatican.

This ceremony takes place every year on May 6 - to mark the anniversary of the Sack of Rome in 1527 by the mutinous troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

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