The impressive view across the square in front of St. Peter’s. The obelisk in the center was brought to Rome from Egypt in 37 AD. ⌂

Choosing a pope When the pope dies, a new pope is chosen as quickly as possible. This is done in secret inside the Vatican. People outside watch the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. If white smoke comes out of the chimney, a new pope has been chosen.

The Swiss Guards The Vatican has its own private army to protect its inhabitants. The members of this force are all male, between 19 and 30 years of age, Catholic and Swiss. They are called the Swiss Guards and they wear bright red, yellow and blue uniforms, said to have been designed by Michelangelo . The Swiss Guards were brought to the Vatican by Pope Julius II in 1506 after the pope had been impressed by their skill in battle. They were used as a fighting force until 1825, after which they became the pope’s force of bodyguards. THE SECRET PASSAGE When Pope Leo IV built the wall around the Vatican, he also created a small corridor, the passetto , between the Vatican buildings and Castle St. Angelo. This corridor provided a useful means of escape to the castle if the Vatican buildings were under attack. It was used by Pope Alexander VI in 1494 to flee the invading French, and again by Pope Clement VII in 1527, when the Vatican was besieged by the armies of Charles V.

⌂ A Swiss Guard on duty at one of the entrances to St. Peter’s. Guards also watch over the priceless contents of the Vatican Museums.



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