Where does a Pope go to when he is being besieged?
Thankfully, it is is not a question that we need to answer any more, and long may that continue.
And much of that is down to the Swiss Guards.
Now they don’t look very scary with their yellow and blue jester plus-four outfits and their helmets with the feather plumage.
But believe me these guys are some of the most specially trained killing machines on Earth.
Yes, they’re armed with something far more powerful than a Swiss Army knife.
Because they know how to disarm you and cause you serious harm.
And yes, they have history, and are 100% dedicated to preserve the life of their boss, Il Papa.
Let me take you back to 1527 when the troops of the Holy Roman Empire sacked Rome and Pope Clement VII had to flee for his life.
So how did he get away?
Well, the Swiss Guards bought him time and laid down their lives for him.
While he disappeared along the 2,600ft long corridor Passetto di Borgo which links the Vatican City to Castel Sant’Angelo.
That Clement knew how to get away was down to the fact that it was a tried and trusted escape route.
Used by his predecessor Pope Alexander VI in 1494.
The Castel Sant’Angelo is thus named because the Archangel Michael appeared atop the mausoleum.
He was sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590, you see.
The statue of the Archangel provides a beautiful backdrop for selfies.
And indeed the best views of the Vatican are from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo.
Also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian it’s where the great Wallmaker and his family had their ashes kept as did future emperors.
Angels and Demons
You probably know the Passetto from Dan Brown books and Assassin’s Creed II.
Me, I know it from being my favourite vantage point in Rome.
And where I tried to escape for two minutes of peace on a family holiday and have myself an espresso.
They found me.
I guess I wouldn’t have been very good back when the Holy Roman Empire were on the prowl.
If you want to know more about Rome read my https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/.
And here are a couple of websites to help you on your way… http://www.castelsantangelo.com and http://www.rome.info.
NEXT WEEK: Another castle