Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Nothing like a Swiss army dude

It was Pope Julius II who established the Swiss Guard, recruiting 200 soldiers from Switzerland. The papal bull ordering those men recruited is still preserved at that Vatican, and forms an important part of the exhibit, along with the flags that Pope Julius sent to Switzerland in thanks after the soldiers arrived. The first members of the Guard reached the Vatican in dramatic fashion, arriving on foot on January 22, 1506, after having marched across the Alps in wintertime. The exhibit includes portraits, documents, and commemorative stamps and coins from throughout the history of the Swiss Guard. Many of the items that will be on display are from the Vatican's own collection, including the private archives of the Swiss Guard. (For the first time the public will be able to see the Guard's own portraits of every commander who has served during its 500-year history.) There will also be items on loan from collections elsewhere in Europe.

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