Officials at the Vatican are celebrating 500 years of protection by the Swiss Guard with a new exhibition commemorating the world’s oldest active military force.
The exhibit, entitled: "The Pontifical Swiss Guard, 500 years of history, art and life" is due to be inaugurated on March 29th in the Charlemagne Wing off of St. Peter's Square.
The Holy See has pointed out that the exhibition brings together for the first time, a number of historical objects and documents compiled from various museums and institutions.
Among them is the original Bull, sent by Pope Julius II in 1505 to the Swiss Confederation explaining that he had called upon prelate Peter von Hertenstein to recruit 200 Swiss soldiers to guard and protect the person of the Pope and the papal palaces.
Likewise, the exhibit will display a number of flags given to Switzerland by the Pope, as well as the helmet and breastplate of Emperor Charles V, a sword with Pope Julius II’s motto, and a number of paintings and miniatures depicting famous historical instances involving the Swiss Guard.
One of the most significant of the works of art is a 1927 painting by the Italian artist Giuseppe Rivaroli depicting the Emperor Charles V’s famous 1527 “Sack of Rome.”
During the attack, 147 Swiss lost their lives defending the Holy Father from invading troops called upon to “punish” the people of Rome as well as Pope Clement VII.
The Swiss Guard, from their own private archives, are contributing portraits of every Guard commander from the last 500 years, as well as uniforms, arms and equipment--both ancient and modern.
The exhibition is being sponsored by the Command of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, and will be patronized by Bishop Mauro Piacenza, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church.
Likewise, numerous Swiss cultural institutions are helping sponsor the event which will be open from March 29th until to July 30th of this year.