When leaving St. Peter's Basilica, you might see some Swiss guards in their medieval uniforms by the exit. This "army" has been protecting the pope for centuries and they still wear the same costumes, use the same weapons, etc as they did back in the olden days. You're allowed to take pictures, but don't expect to pose with them - the two that I saw were young and quite cute so I would have loved a pic of myself standing between them (hehehe... I'm so boy crazy!), but they wouldn't let anyone come close.
Among the necessary requirements for being a Swiss guard are Swiss citizenship (obviously!), speaking Italian fluently, and being a practicing Catholic. They swear allegiance to the pope, and I think they actually live in Vatican City (as opposed to Rome).
Every Catholic Church has Holy Water Fonts, and of course the greatest Catholic Church in the world, St Peter's Basilica, has the most ornate and beautiful fonts I have ever seen. That being said they are an important part of an entry into a Church for Catholics. Who traditionally, I am not sure why *I am Catholic* but we always do it and that is what I was taught was proper and very important to do as you enter and leave the Church. Anyway, a worshiper takes the Holy Water and make the sign of the cross on his or her body. These are meant to be kept free so that worshipers can use them. They are practical art. So please I know the are beautiful but don’t try and take a picture in front of them. It prevents worshipers from accessing the Holy Water, and a guard nearby will shoo you away as soon as he sees you set up. If you however, like me, want a picture of the fonts, do it at a distance so that people can still access the holy water.
It's been said before but bears repeating, to enter St. Peter's Basilica you must have appropriate attire, which means even if it's 95 degrees outside you will not be allowed entry if you are wearing shorts, skirts with a hem above the calf or tank tops. Women are offered the courtesy of shawls to cover their shoulders if they are showing (there may be a fee for this, I'm not sure).
Please, if for any reason you are not wearing appropriate clothing and are denied entry to the Basilica do not act like the woman in front of me who gave the guards a very hard time when she was not allowed in. It's embarassing for you and no one wants to see that. There are signs everywhere showing you the dress code before you get to the gate.
There seems to be some leeway or judgement factor made by the guards. You may be allowed into the Basilica with borderline clothing, but there is a small chapel room on the right side of the Basilica (I think it's the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrement), a few doors beyond the Pieta, where clothing rules are strictly enforced. If you want to pray in that room you must have appropriate clothing.
Jesus is said to have given the keys to his church to St. Peter, and Peter was crucified upside down (as he didn't feel he deserved to be killed the same way as Jesus) not far from the Basilica and his remains are said to be within the Basilica. I don't think the Vatican requiring people to dress appropriately in St. Peter's Basilica too much to ask.
THINK YOU ARE TOUGH ENOUGH?
Well you have to have the following requirements of you want to guard the Pope:
* Swiss Citizen
* Good moral and ethical background
* Attend the Military School in Switzerland
* Be between 19-30 years old
* Be at least 174 cm tall
* Be unmarried
* Have a professional diploma or high school degree
(I think you have to be a Man as well).
So how did this all start?
The Swiss Guards (officially: The Corps of the Pontifical Swiss Guard) were Swiss mercenary soldiers who served as bodyguards, ceremonial guards and palace guards at many European courts from the 15th century until the present day in the Vatican. There have been several ‘Swiss Guards’ with the one here in Vatican City being founded in 1506 when Pope Sixtus IV made an alliance with the Swiss Confederation. It is also the last.
It is the army of the sovereign state of the Vatican. It currently has 134 members and its official language is German. New guards are sworn in once a year on May 6th. The guards are fully trained and equipped with modern tactics and weaponry. Just in case, they are also trained to use the sword and ceremonial halberd in case a non-modern villain attacks. They do not all wear bright coloured uniforms (please click on the pictures to see).
Many traditions are firmly in place when a new Pope is elected. The "smoke signal from the chimney of the conclave room is one of the more famous. Pope John Paul II himself promulgated a whole new set of rules in 1996 and added the ringing of bells to the white smoke signal. The eligible cardinals vote in secret ballots until someone receives a vote of two-thirds plus one. The ballots are burned after each vote. Black smoke drived from the mix of straw with the ballots indicates a failed election while the appearance of white smoke means a new pope has been chosen. Since the cardinals meet in isolation, it's the only way to inform the public about the proceedings.
The current Pope Pope Benedict XVI was elected as the new Pontiff in the fourth round of balloting by the cardinals.
As nice as the guys in the colorful outfits look, the really aren't there for your personal amusement. They are actual soldiers. Apparently, Switzerland requires compulsory military service of all healthy males. Those who go through basic training and can receive a certificate of "good conduct" can apply to serve their compulsory period as a member of the Vatican Swiss Guard . They are real soldiers, trained in modern tactics and weaponry, but in addition, giving extensive training on the use of the sword and the halberd (the long spear/axe weapon shown in the pics).
Anyway, my tip is this. I saw too many tourists try to walk up and take pictures with the guards. They do not like this. Keep a respectful distance. Pictures from a distance are okay. But don't walk up, throw your arms around one, and say cheese. You might find yourself on the wrong end of a helberd.
Via del Croce in Roma took place this evening of Good Friday. The Vatican conducted the Way of the Cross under a full moon in the Colosseum/Forum area for a multitude of international people. A most impressive ceremony marking the passion of Christ. A travelogue will show the best of the photos we were able to retrieve.
The Pope and the Vatican are guarded by the famed Swiss guards. They have been the paid mercenaries of the pope since 1506 when they were hired to protect the Pope from the warring city states of Italy.
You will have to be dressed conservatively to gain access to the Vatican. Shirts with rude language or symbols will be confiscated if you make it in.
So dress well, and respectfully. A t-shirt and shorts are often sufficient, as long as the shorts cover the knees. Closed shoes are a must.
I didnt knew who this guy was because i am not christian but i saw people touching his foot for good luck.
I didnt touch his foot because i am not a christian believer.
My good friend Michael (globetrott) told me this is St. peter the man that this church is named after , the first pope and one of the 12 apostels. - Thanks michael.
DRESS CODE: Women must cover their shoulders and arms, no mini-skirts, while men are required to wear long trousers.
Warning to all visitors to Vatican. If you wish to visit the Basilica, it is compulsory to follow the dress code in order to enter.
So, remember bring extra clothing, otherwise you end up watching other people enter in and out.
However, it must be mentioned that the most important architectural contribution of the 20th century is the great Pontifical Audience hall, designed by pier luigi nervi (1971), which is entered through the "arco delle campane" for the pope's weekly audiences and other special events.
We shall limit ourselves to noting only the principal works exposed:
Early Italians and Byzantines
Giotto and followers
Melozzo da Forli
Minor painters of the 15th century
15th century polyptychos
15th century Umbrian School
Leonardo da Vinci
Titian, Veronese and various 16th century artists
Today the picture gallery contains about 500 works between pictures and tapestries, arranged in the 15 rooms which compose it according to chronological order:
From the Byzantines and early Italians of 1100-1300
The Vatican City is the richest country in the world, in former times the church was so wealthy, and it was one of the reasons for the Renaissance period that left the papacy in power epoch!
many golden statues are every where and it is marvelous.