Religion: On Guard at the Vatican

The world's most enduring army of admitted mercenaries is armed with broadswords and halberds and dressed in striped uniforms of blue, red and yellow. But the famed Swiss guards of Vatican City, sworn to defend the Pope to the death, are no mere ceremonial troop; the guardsmen are well trained in hand-to-hand fighting and have an arsenal of Swiss rifles in their quarters in St. Peter's. Last week a pontifical commission gave this elite corps a much-needed streamlining. Recruits were growing hard to find, and there was a rumble of discontent in the ranks.

Spartan Standards. The guardsmen's lot has never been...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!