On May 6, 34 new guards, among them Pole Dawid Kołbukowski, joined the ranks of the Pontifical Swiss Guard to serve as the Pope’s bodyguards in the Vatican.
Dawid dreamed of joining the Swiss Guard ever since he was a little boy. However, he became more serious about it in 2013, when he was about to write his leaving exam. He was also inspired by Pope Francis, who became Pope that year.
In order to join the Swiss Guard, one has to be a single practising Roman Catholic and have a Swiss Citizenship. Members also have to finish complete military training in Switzerland and be 1.74 cm tall. Soldiers vow to protect the Pope, even potentially sacrificing their own life.
The Swiss Army’s presence in the Vatican goes back all the way to 1506, when Pope Julius II established it. In 1527, a war between France and Germany broke out. The then Pope, Klemens VII took France’s side. That is when the German Army invaded the Vatican. There were 189 soldiers who protected the Pope and only 42 survived. Their courage and sacrifice was highly valued ever since.
Currently, there are 135 members of the guard. They wear a characteristic uniform with navy-yellow-red stripes.