Friday, January 21, 2011

The Body Guard Of Pope John Paul II Talks About Guarding the Pope

There is an interesting interview with the former Body Guard of John Paul II that talks about his experiences. See Laying Down One's Life for the Pope.

This part got my attention:
No gun, no vest

Vatican protection for the Pope on papal trips has traditionally been provided by two plain clothed Swiss Guards, a captain and a corporal, and three Vatican Police. The rest of the protection is given over to local authorities who usually offer the Vatican security detail the use of a car.

During his period of service, Fringeli didn't wear a bullet proof jacket -- it would have been too heavy and "my protection was my body," he said. Nor did he carry a weapon. "What can you do with guns and a crowd?" he said. "You would kill many people, and the same applies here in St. Peter's Square basilica or at an audience."

Instead, he relied mostly on his eyesight and personal fitness. The former Swiss Guard showed me a photo of him dressed in a dark suit, walking next to John Paul II on a visit to Romania and squinting, his eyes trained on the surrounding crowds. "I'm always scanning around, looking for a sudden movement, someone running or jumping over the barricades," he said. "That was my task."

That is indeed curious. Of course I don't think Vatican security is just ancient swords. Note this from an article a couple of years back:
While they still wear armor and carry antique weapons, it’s not all medieval warfare for the Swiss Guards. They must maintain a high degree of physical fitness and master modern weaponry, such as the H&K submachine gun and the SIG Sauer 9 mm pistol. To best protect the Pope, they also train at close-quarters fighting and tactical movement, as well as security and counter-terrorism techniques.

So while the bodyguard closest to the Pope might not "armed" one gets the impression that many others are.


Left-footer said...

Hah! Thank you!

So much for the 'doctrinal' 'Catholic' pacificism of so many Catholic blogs.

Viva Lepanto!

Rick said...

If I recall Clancy's novel Sum of All Fears features the Swiss Guard taking charge of security in Jerusalem. And they are very very good at what they do.

(Fast forward to the Hyperion science-fiction series by Dan Simmons in which the Swiss Guard are the uber-elite of the Vatican's military forces.)

James H said...

Wow I need to read that SCI Fi Series :)