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Swiss Guards get Swiss money for better barracks 

The Pontifical Swiss Guard has been protecting the Pope and contributing to Switzerland's public image around the world since 1506. Keystone / Alessandro Di Meo

The Swiss government has agreed funding to renovate the barracks of the Swiss Guard in the Vatican, which has been protecting the Pope since the sixteenth century.  

This content was published on December 11, 2020 - 17:01
swissinfo/jc

In a press releaseExternal link, the government said it had agreed on Friday “to strengthen ties with the Swiss Guard External linkby providing CHF5 million ($5.6 million) in funding for the renovation of the barracks in the Vatican. The total cost of the project is CHF55 million”. 

The barracks have only undergone partial renovations since their construction in the early 19th century and no longer meet current standards in terms of comfort or sustainability, according to the government. The renovations will also meet the needs of more personnel, since the number of guards is being increased from 110 to 135. This renovation work “will be entrusted to Swiss architectural and engineering firms”. 

Centenary  

The decision comes as 2020 marks the centenary of the resumption of official relations between the Swiss Confederation and the Holy See.  

“When relations broke down during the Kulturkampf between 1873 and 1920, the Swiss Guard continued to fulfil its mandate to protect the Pope and has thus connected Switzerland and the Vatican for over 500 years,” says the press release. “In addition to their ties through the Swiss Guard, Switzerland and the Vatican share the aim of promoting peace in the world through their bilateral relations.” 

The “Kulturkampf” in Switzerland was a dispute between the state and the Catholic Church under Pope Pius IX. Switzerland has both majority-Protestant and majority Catholic cantons, although patterns of faith have changed in recent times.  

“At home, the Swiss Guard enjoys widespread support among Swiss authorities and people regardless of faith community,” the government adds.   

The guard has been suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, more than a dozen Swiss Guards and one person who lives in the residence that houses the Pope tested positive for the coronavirus and had to be quarantined. The quarantine ended on November 21External link

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