The Swiss Guard, the world’s smallest army with just 140 soldiers, is considering the previously unthinkable - opening up to female soldiers. Source: The Telegraph/The Age.
A bastion of conservatism even by the standards of the Vatican, the Swiss Guard has been a celebrated institution since its foundation in 1506. Recruits to the ancient corps must be single, practising Catholics of Swiss nationality, aged between 19 and 30.
They must serve for a minimum of two years, protecting the Pope and standing ramrod straight in sentry boxes outside St Peter’s Basilica.
Now comes a potential revolution - the tiny corps has announced that it is having new barracks built within the walls of the Vatican and that it will be able to accommodate female soldiers.
The new barracks, which will cost 50 million Swiss francs ($73 million), will allow the entire corps to live inside the Vatican and will feature individual rooms with bathrooms.
Lieutenant Urs Breitenmoser, a spokesman for the Swiss Guard, said it means that in future, if the decision is taken, they would be able to accommodate women as well.
A future move to recruit women soldiers would chime with the Pope’s insistence that women play a greater role in the life of the Catholic Church, Lieutenant Breitenmoser said.
The world’s smallest army - just 140 soldiers - considers the ‘unthinkable’ (The Telegraph/The Age)