Even during the Kulturkampf, a conflict between the Catholic Church and the government of the Kingdom of Prussia, which led to a 47-year break-down in relations between the Holy See and the Swiss Confederation, the guard continued to defend Pope Pius IX and his successors.
The Vatican military was established by Pope Julius II in 1506 and is charged with serving and protecting the pope, which new recruits vow to do, even "sacrificing if necessary also my life."
The Swiss Guard is responsible for Vatican security together with the Vatican gendarmes.
Every year the guards commemorate the May 4 anniversary of the Sack of Rome, the 1527 battle in which 147 Swiss Guards lost their lives defending Pope Clement VII from mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Empire.
Pope Francis met with the 38 newest members of the Swiss Guard two days before they were sworn-in Oct. 4.
"May the oath you take the day after tomorrow also be a testimony of fidelity to your baptismal vocation, that is, to Christ, who calls you to be men and Christians, protagonists of your existence," he said.
"With his help and with the power of the Holy Spirit, you will calmly face the obstacles and challenges of life. Do not forget that the Lord is always at your side," the pope continued. "I sincerely wish you to always feel his consoling presence."
Photographs of the proposed design courtesy of the Foundation for the Renovation of the Barracks of the Papal Swiss Guard in the Vatican