New Documentary Offers Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Pontifical Swiss Guard
The German-French production explores the daily life and special vocation of the members of the smallest army in the world, putting in images the exceptional universe in which they evolve.
A behind-the-scenes documentary about the Pontifical Swiss Guard in the Vatican was recently released on the website of European cultural channel Arte.
The 30-minute documentary, available in German and French at this time, features two young members of the Guard from Escholzmatt, a small village in German-speaking Switzerland, retracing their months of training that culminated in their oath-taking to officially join the world’s smallest army alongside some 30 other young members of the class, May 6.
Lukas Wicki, 21, and his friend Dominik Zemp, with whom he grew up and signed up for the Guard service, share the same love for the Church and the same willingness to ensure the pope’s safety, even at the risk of their lives.
Through their eyes, Italian director Alessandro Cassigoli reveals to the viewer the many different facets of the world in which those who make it into this elite troop evolve, whether it be the demands of their training and daily rhythms, or the delight of being able to contemplate a sunrise over Rome from the Apostolic Palace after a long night of guard duty.
In their traditional Renaissance-style multi-colored uniforms, the Swiss Guards watch over the Vatican territory day and night and are also present at all the celebrations in St. Peter’s Square.
Founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II, the Pontifical Swiss Guard has always enjoyed a reputation of excellence. The Swiss mercenaries used to be considered the most qualified and faithful fighters in the world. The legacy of papal trust toward the Swiss continues to endure to this day.
The Arte documentary, which also offers rare views of the interior of the Vatican and in particular the Apostolic Palace, will be available online until March 2, 2023.
To find out more about the evolution and current realities of this centuries-old institution, see Soldiers of the Pope: The Ancestral Tradition of the Pontifical Swiss Guard in the Vatican.