The Swiss Guards, the Pope’s private army, break with centuries of tradition to adopt new plastic helmets that are fabricated on a 3D printer.
They’ve been protecting the pope for centuries. And now thanks to 3D printing technology, the world’s oldest standing army are getting a modern upgrade.
The Swiss Guards are retiring their traditional metal headgear for a plastic replica made on a 3D printer. The force shared news of the change ahead of their annual swearing-in ceremony on Sunday.
“We have to keep up with the times,” said Guard Commander Graf at the new helmets’ presentation.
But breaks with tradition can also bring a practical advantage. The Swiss Guards say the new helmet model will be cheaper to make and lighter to wear. It will also keep soldiers’ heads cooler during guard duty that can last for hours at a time.
But before the helmets become standard issue, the Swiss Guards need sponsors to fund the cost of fabricating the helmets, estimated at $1,050 (£740) apiece. That’s around half the price of the metal versions.
Around 40 have already been made thanks to contributions from private donors. The force is soliciting help to commission another 60.
The Swiss Guards hold the distinction of being the smallest army in the world, responsible for the Pope’s safety and the security of the Vatican in general.
They require a regular intake of around 30-40 Catholic men who are single and under the age of 30 to enlist for at least two years. They swear an oath to protect the Vatican and the papacy with their lives. The unit’s size consists of one reinforced company of 110 men.
Traditionally the Swiss Guards wear a ceremonial cuirass with a feathered, crested helmet and wield a halberd. An updated and lighter version of the uniform worn by modern recruits sports less metal but retains the red, yellow and blue livery of the Medici family.
And as for the new helmet, the only real change is the material. Each PVC helmet retains the stamp of the coat of arms of Pope Julius II, who founded the private army of mercenary troops in 1506 and was known as “the warrior pope”.
Naturally, since they’re made of plastic, the helmets are not considered suitable for battle.
Source: Die Presse
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