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This book on the “Swiss Papal Guard” is subdivided into three sections. The first part “The history of the Swiss Guard” focuses on the time of its formation and the important milestones in its long and eventful history. The second part “The world of the Swiss Guard” presents the uniforms and flags, places of worship and the Swiss Guard’s barracks and describes how Switzerland supports the Swiss Guard and its closeness to its home country. The third part “Life with the Swiss Guard” covers aspects such as everyday life, training and duties, the motivation behind joining the Swiss Guard and comments on the homicide that occurred in the Guard in 1998. The book ends with a chapter on the day that represents the pinnacle in the life of a Swiss Guard - being sworn in on the day of the “Sacco di Roma”.



Swiss Papal Guard

Acriter et fideliter –
brave and loyal

by Robert Walpen





9 x 10 5/8 in.

23 x 27 cm

272 pages

richly illustrated


Greeting from Pope Benedict XVI

Foreword by the President of the Confedera-tion Samuel Schmid

Foreword by Corps Commandant Beat Fischer

Foreword by the former Swiss Guard Commandant Pius Segmüller


The history of the Swiss Guard

Rome and the papacy

Italy in the transition to the 16th century

The Swiss Confederation in the transition to the 16th century

Pope Julius II

Formation of the Swiss Guard

The Swiss Guard lays down its life for the Pope

The Swiss Guard since its reformation


The world of the Swiss Guard

The uniform

Flags and weapons

Places of worship and the Swiss Guard’s cemetery

The barracks

Financial support from Switzerland

Recruitment from Switzerland

Support from Switzerland for the ideal


Life with the Swiss Guard

The everyday life of the Swiss Guards

Structure and organisation

Duties and training

Motives for joining the Swiss Guard

Death and a new beginning in the Swiss Guard

Portraits of Swiss Guards

Swearing in on the day of the “Sack of Rome”


The Commandants of the Swiss Papal Guard and their coat of arms

Sorrow and joy at the Vatican

List of members from 1900




List of illustrations




Born in 1948, he studied general history at the University of Zurich, receiving his PhD in 1978. His doctorate examination followed two years later with a thesis on "Untersuchung zur Landeshoheit der Bischöfe von Sitten und Brixen" [Investigation of the sovereignty of the Bishops of Sitten and Brixen].


Mr. Walpen teaches history as his main subject at the Hohe Promenade Cantonal High School in Zurich and lectures at the University of Zurich on the teaching of history for the training of secondary school history teachers.


As a former colonel in the Swiss Army, he gives courses in the communications sector at the Institute for Applied Psychology in Zurich.


Robert Walpen has written several essays, particularly on the history of the canton of Valais in the Middle Ages and in the early modern era.