Lighter headgear to replace Swiss Guards' cast iron helmets in 2019.The Vatican's Swiss Guards plan to replace their traditional cast iron helmets with much lighter headgear in PVC, produced with the aid of 3D printing technology, at some stage in 2019.
The move is designed to provide the pope's army with more comfortable helmets when standing guard for hours at a time, particularly during the summer heat.
The new headgear was developed by Swiss engineer Peter Portmann, described as a "friend of the Swiss Guards" by the papal army's commander Christoph Graf.The new-look helmet will cost €880 each - roughly half the old price - with a similar design to the original apart from an additional feature of the coat of arms of Pope Julius II, who founded the army in 1506.
A prototype of the helmet was presented ahead of the 6 May swearing-in of 32 new Swiss Guards who took a solemn oath of allegiance to the pope at a ceremony in the S. Damaso courtyard of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.The annual event commemorates 6 May 1527, when 147 Swiss Guards died protecting Pope Clement VII from the army of the Holy Roman Emperor. The pope fled via the 800-m Passetto di Borgo passageway to the nearby refuge of Castel S. Angelo.
The 135 current Swiss Guards belong to the world's oldest standing army which celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2006. The guards must be male and of Swiss nationality, as well as being Catholic, unmarried and aged between 19 and 30. They must also have undergone intensive Swiss military training and be a minimum height of 174 cm.
In addition to protecting the pope, the army performs ceremonial duties and assists at Vatican functions, and is famous for its ancient halberd weapons and its blue, gold and red uniform. The soldiers serve for between two and 25 years.