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The Vatican Prepares For The Departure This Week Of Pope Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 26: (EDITORS NOTE; THIS DIGITAL IMAGE WAS CREATED USING A VARIABLE PLANE LENS) Members of the Pope's Swiss Guard protect the gates to St Paul's Basilica on February 26, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Pontiff will hold his last weekly public audience on February 27, 2013 before he retires the following day. 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 Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Guarding the Pope in style

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.