Swiss Guard considers female recruits
The Swiss Guard is to consider recruiting women into the world's smallest army for the first time in the papal security force's 500-year history.
The new commander of the force, whose distinctive blue, yellow and red uniforms and ceremonial halberds grace the precincts of the Vatican, said that obstacles that had kept the force all-male could be overcome.
Colonel Daniel Anrig, who took over the post last year, told Italy's Mediaset television station that logistical problems at the barracks of the 110-strong Swiss Guard could be resolved simply by building separate living accommodation. The female recruits could perform a number of duties carried out by male members of the force, he added.
His surprise comments, which follow the refusal of his predecessors to contemplate women recruits, were made on the eve of a swearing-in ceremony at the Vatican for 32 new members of the force.
The event is held on May 6 each year to commemorate the day that 147 Swiss Guards were killed during the Sack of Rome in 1527. The surviving members saved the life of Pope Clement VII.
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