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Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General Audience Before His Retirement

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 27: A Swiss Guard stands in St Peter's Square ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's final general audience before his retirement on February 27, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Pontiff will hold his last weekly public audience later before he abdicates tomorrow. Pope Benedict XVI has been the leader of the Catholic Church for eight years and is the first Pope to retire since 1415. He cites ailing health as his reason for retirement and will spend the rest of his life in solitude away from public engagements. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Guarding the Pope in style

March 8, 2013

Swiss Guards are soldiers who have served as bodyguards at European palaces since the 15th century. The Papal Swiss Guard is the only one that still exists and are responsible for the safety of the Pope. They serve as the de facto military of Vatican City. Guards must be Catholic, single males with Swiss citizenship and have completed basic training with the Swiss military. The uniform has a distinctly Renaissance appearance and is inspired by Michelangelo and Raphael paintings.

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