First News
Volume:7, Number:45
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Around The World 4
THIS WEEK

World’s Oldest Standing Army Has 40 New Swiss Guards

Forty new Swiss Guards were sworn in at the Vatican, the latest halberd-clutching soldiers of the pope to serve a tradition stretching back 500 years. A tourist magnet for centuries, the spectacularly dressed Swiss Guards swear to sacrifice themselves if necessary for the pope. Put of these guards, 23 are German-speaking Swiss, 13 are French-speaking and four are Italian-speaking. Not anyone can be a Swiss Guard. Applicants have to be a practising Roman Catholic, Swiss, single, between 19 and 30 years old and at least 1.74 meters tall. The 40 new Swiss Guards will be joining an army created in 1506 when Pope Julius II recruited the supposedly invincible mercenaries for his protection. The swearing-in ceremony took place on May 6 — a bloody date in the history of the Swiss Guards when 147 of them died during the 1527 Sack of Rome. The recruits don the famous yellow, blue and red uniform and a metal helmet with ostrich plumage.

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