Reuters reports that the Colonel of the Papal Swiss Guard floated the idea of letting women be guardsmen:
After more than five centuries protecting popes, the Swiss Guard may consider opening the ranks of the world’s smallest army to women, its commander said Tuesday.
“I can imagine them for one role or another. Certainly we can think about this,” Daniel Anrig, who took over the post late last year, told Italian television program “Studio Aperto.”
Not to go all Bishop Williamson on him, but if the Vatican military starts signing up women we will know the idea of the complementarity of the sexes is close to being completely dead.
The Swiss Guard is an actual bodyguard, though you wouldn’t know that from the article:
Clad in flamboyant striped uniforms, the guard’s role is largely ceremonial and many of its members still carry around a medieval weapon — the halberd, which is a combination of spear and battle axe.
They wear natty uniforms, but they’re fully trained Swiss soldiers who then receive additional training when they arrive at the Vatican. Sure they look smart standing post at the Vatican, but that doesn’t mean they’re not actually guarding the place. The Pope isn’t safe, remember Mehmet Ali Ağca? They’re not qualifying on the SIG SG 550 just for the fun of it. The Guard’s protective detail role also often gets missed, because they do it in mufti, not in the brightly colored uniforms.
Amazingly, the Swiss Guard has an online store. You can get Swiss Guard Swiss Army Knives and Swiss Guard Swiss Watches (sadly no Chocolate or Cuckoo Clocks.)