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Zurich museum traces history of Vatican Swiss Guard

The Haus zum Rech museum in Zurich is staging an exhibition on the history of the Swiss Guard, outlining the early days of the papal corps and its history throughout the centuries to the present.

This content was published on September 28, 1999 - 08:38

The Haus zum Rech museum in Zurich is staging an exhibition on the history of the Swiss Guard, outlining the early days of the papal corps and its history throughout the centuries to the present.

One section of the exhibition is dedicated to the close links between the Swiss guard and a local family by the name of Röist.

The key proponents of the Röist family – which was one of the richest in Zurich in late 15th and early 16th century -- were ardent supporters of the reformation. Both Diethelm (1482-1544) and Marx (1454-1524) Röist came out strongly in favour of the revolutionary religious ideas of local reformer Ulrich Zwingli.

Ironically, Pope Leo X ordered Marx Röist, who then served as mayor of Zurich, to head the Swiss guard in Rome in 1517. Instead of following up the order, he sent his son Kaspar, who later became head of the guard.

Organisers of the exhibition use paintings, pictures and texts to highlight the often tense relations between Zurich and Rome and the religious disputes between the Holy See and the leaders of the reformation.

As for the modern day Swiss Guard soldiers: they must be single, at least 175 cm tall and aged between 19 and 30. They also must have completed basic training in Switzerland’s milita army and finished apprenticeship training or grammar school.

The exhibition at the Haus zum Rech runs until November 20.

From staff and wire reports.


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