Swiss Guards Stand Down As Pope Benedict XVI Retires (PHOTOS)

02/28/2013 10:06 am ET | Updated Apr 30, 2013

Being a Swiss Guard is not all feathered helmets and puffy striped uniforms.

To even apply, you must be Catholic, male, Swiss and between 19 and 30 years of age. You need to sign up for a minimum two-year hitch and must complete your mandatory military service back at home.

Swiss Guards take an oath to protect the present pope and whoever follows him as the latest successor to the first pontiff, Peter.

Tonight, when Pope Benedict XVI retires at 8 p.m., the Swiss Guards will go inside the papal palace at Castel Gandolfo and go off duty. They won't be staying, however — after they get out of their dress uniforms they will be driven back to Rome.

Benedict will then be guarded by Vatican security personnel.

Take a look at the best photos of the guard in the slideshow below.

The Vatican's Swiss Guards

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