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Swiss Guards: 3D-printed helmets, 500 years and a monthly video series


As January 22 marked the 513th anniversary of the Pontifical Swiss Guards, new developments are coming to this centuries-old group. 

Among them, new helmets, printed in 3D with lightweight PVC material. They are modeled from a 16th century design and take 14 hours to print, instead of the 130 hours needed for the metal ones.

DIDIER GRANDJEAN
Vice-corporal, Pontifical Swiss Guard
“The reason for this change was for everyone to have the same helmet as a unit. Now we have different models, with different weights that were introduced at different times.”

However, the silver helmets will remain. The change only affects the black ones to include the seal of Pope Julius II, who established the Swiss Guards in 1506. 

While many of the new helmets came in January, Vice-corporal Grandjean says they should replace all of them within the month of March, before Summer arrives.

DIDIER GRANDJEAN
Vice-corporal, Pontifical Swiss Guard
“You can imagine when we are in St. Peter's Square under the hot sun, obviously the helmets have burned the ears of some men. With this new models, it's a type of plastic, so this shouldn't be a problem anymore.”

Additionally they have launched a video series for 2019. The 20th of every month, they publish a new video to further explain what the Swiss Guards do and recruit new young men to join. They have just received permission to raise the number of men from 110 to 135. 

DIDIER GRANDJEAN
Vice-corporal, Pontifical Swiss Guard
“The video topics are already chosen. For example, there will be one on 'Papal protection and closeness.' Then we will do lighter themes, such as 'Free time,' 'Brotherhood,' and 'Life as a Swiss Guard.' We want to give a complete image of what life is like as a Swiss Guard.”

Every May 6, new Swiss Guards take their Oath of Loyalty at the Vatican. This year, they expect to have around 25-30 new men joining their ranks to protect the pope day in and day out.