It is one of the oldest elite corps in the world and yet it seems doomed to disappear. The Pope’s personal “army”, the Swiss Guard, born in 1506, languishes: barely a hundred soldiers, far fewer than the Vatican machinery would need, and only about thirty aspirants. The reason? Only men are allowed. A situation that could change as of 2027, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the “Sacco di Roma”, which commemorates the death of 147 Swiss Guards protecting the Pope from the looting of the troops of Charles V.
And it is that the requirements to be selected in the personal guard of the Pope have not changed in five centuries. Which are? Be between 19 and 30 years old, practicing Catholic, Swiss citizen, single, taller than 1.74 meters, and in good health with an impeccable reputation. In exchange, 1,500 euros are received per month. At least, in addition, they must serve the Pontiff for 26 months.
Little by little, however, things seem to begin to change, or at least that is what the newspaper has pointed out. Swiss ‘Sonntags Zeitung’, which ensures that the Holy See would be considering incorporating women into the Swiss Guard corps by 2027. The possibility has arisen due to the construction of a new building to house the recruits. The president of the foundation that finances the works, Jean-Pierre Roth, insisted that “the new building should offer space for women who do the service.” The budget amounts to 46 million euros, and is expected to be completed in May 2027, to celebrate this anniversary.
“It was important for us, from the beginning, that the barracks offer space to serve women,” said the former president of the Swiss Bank. For her part, the president of the Swiss Guard Foundation, Ruth Metzler-Arnold, stressed that “as soon as women are admitted, the recruitment potential of the Guard will also increase.”
Will things change by 2027? At the moment, in the Vatican nothing is said about it. A spokesman traveling with the Pope in Hungary and Slovakia told Reuters he was unaware of the report and a security source aboard the papal plane declined to confirm whether the Swiss Guard would ever allow the presence of women: “We will see.”
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