It’s the smallest and most mysterious army in the world: the Pontifical Swiss Guard. We were granted exceptional access to these men of faith and combat, from their recruitment in Switzerland to their military training in the heart of the Vatican.

Made up of 150 men, this elite corps lives in barracks in the heart of Vatican City. All must be Swiss nationals and devout Catholics. All have sworn to fight to the death to protect their faith and the Holy Father.

We see them at official ceremonies, escorting the Pope with their armor and halberds from another era. But beyond the folkloric aspect of their costumes, these Swiss Guards receive top-level military training: martial arts, close protection and handling of the latest automatic weapons.

They are heirs to a 500 year old tradition in which the Pope’s protection and security were assured by mercenaries from Switzerland. At the time, these fighters were considered the most seasoned and loyal.

Trained to wield both halberds and semi- automatic assault rifles, the Swiss Guards form a unique army. But who are they really? What motivates these young boys to join this military and religious corps? An insight into a world usually closed to the cameras.


  • Year: 2023
  • Duration: 52 min
  • Production: Sable Rouge
  • Director: Brando Baranzelli
  • Available Versions: ENG, FRA
  • Country of production: France