Pope’s Swiss Guards will ditch heavy metal helmets for a plastic version made by a 3D printer
- The Pope’s Swiss Guards plan to replace their metal helmets with plastic ones
- The 3D printed helmets are half the cost of the old, but still cost £740 to make
- The helmet prototype was revealed before a swearing-in ceremony on Sunday
The world’s oldest standing army is getting some new headgear.
The Pope’s Swiss Guards plan to replace their metal helmets with plastic PVC ones made with a 3D printer, giving the army cooler and more comfortable headgear when standing guard for hours at a time.
The new helmets are half the cost of the old, heavy ones, but still cost £740.
The Swiss Guards unveiled the helmet prototype before their annual swearing-in ceremony on Sunday.
The Pope’s Swiss Guards plan to replace their metal helmets with plastic PVC ones (pictured) made with a 3D printer, giving the army cooler and more comfortable headgear
The new helmets will give the Pope’s army cooler and more comfortable headgear when standing guard for hours at a time. Pictured: Pope Francis on Saturday
The printed helmets are resistant to UV rays – which is a major health benefit as the guards spend much of their time outside.
The helmets are stamped with the coat of arms of Pope Julius II, who founded the corps in 1506.
Tradition has it that he was so impressed by the bravery of Swiss mercenaries that he asked them to defend the Vatican, making them the oldest standing army in the world. They are also the smallest.
Ever since, for more than 500 years, Switzerland has been supplying soldiers to the Vatican.
Thirty-two new recruits – all of them single Swiss men under age 30 and upstanding Catholics – joined the small corps for a minimum two years by pledging to protect the pope and his successors.
The new helmets won’t be donned since more formal helmets are used for the elaborate, pomp-filled swearing-in ceremony in the San Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace.
The new helmets (pictured) are stamped with the coat of arms of Pope Julius II, who founded the corps in 1506
The Swiss Guards are famous for their billowy blue, red and yellow striped uniforms. Pictured: Guards in the old, metal helmets
But Swiss Guard spokesman Sgt. Urs Breitenmoser said the Guards hope to replace their existing metal helmets by next year if they can find sponsors to pay for the new ones.
The Swiss Guards are famous for their billowy blue, red and yellow striped uniforms.
According to a history on the Guards’ website, the ‘Gala Uniform’ as it is known, was designed by Commander Jules Repond in the early 1900s and is based on the colors of the Medici family.
It’s only one of several outfits the guards wear. Those policing the Vatican’s main entrances don far more sober navy uniforms topped with a snappy beret for their regular shifts.
The May 6 date for the annual swearing-in ceremony commemorates the day in 1527 when 147 guardsmen died while protecting Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome.
The new helmets won’t protect guardsmen against other such threats, however, since they’re plastic and purely ceremonial. Breitenmoser said they would be used for papal Masses and state visits.
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