The National Sport of Holy See (Vatican City State)

August 25, 2023


Vatican City State, also known as Holy See, is the smallest independent city-state in the world. With an area of only 0.44 square kilometers and a population of around 1,000 people, it is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

While Vatican City may not be known for its athletic prowess, it does have a national sport that holds deep cultural and religious significance for its residents.

The National Sport: Swiss Guard's Martial Arts

The national sport of Holy See is the martial arts practiced by the Swiss Guard, the small army responsible for protecting the Pope and the Vatican City State. This unique sport combines elements of traditional martial arts, self-defense techniques, and the mastery of various weapons.

The Swiss Guard's martial arts training emphasizes discipline, physical fitness, and mental focus. It is a rigorous and demanding practice that requires dedication and skill.

Through the years, the sport has evolved to become not only a means of protecting the Pope and the Vatican but also an essential part of the Swiss Guards' identity and cultural heritage.

History of the Swiss Guard

The Swiss Guard was established in 1506 by Pope Julius II. At that time, Pope Julius invited Swiss mercenaries to serve as his personal bodyguards. Impressed by their loyalty and courage, he entrusted their protection to the Swiss, and they have served as the papal guard ever since.

Originally, the Swiss Guard's primary role was purely defensive. However, as the need for protection increased and the dangers of the post-Reformation era loomed, their training expanded to include combat and martial arts.

Today, the Swiss Guard's martial arts skills are showcased during official ceremonies, public displays, and various events both within Vatican City and around the world.

The Training and Techniques

The training of a Swiss Guard begins with a rigorous physical fitness program, which includes endurance exercises, strength training, and martial arts drills. Aspiring guards undergo intensive combat training that covers an extensive range of techniques, including unarmed combat, knife fighting, and the use of traditional weapons such as the halberd and saber.

The Swiss Guard's martial arts training is based on centuries-old traditions handed down from generation to generation. Techniques have been refined over time, blending ancient martial arts principles with modern self-defense strategies.

This training is complemented by a strong focus on discipline, teamwork, and spiritual devotion. The Swiss Guard's dedication to both their spiritual and physical well-being is a testament to their commitment to serving the Holy See.

Cultural and Religious Significance

The practice of martial arts by the Swiss Guard goes beyond mere self-defense. It serves as a symbol of devotion, honor, and commitment to protect the Pope and the principles for which the Vatican City stands.

The precision and elegance showcased during public displays highlight the Swiss Guard's dedication to excellence and the unity of mind, body, and spirit.

Moreover, the Swiss Guard's martial arts heritage reflects the wider traditions of Switzerland. The sport fosters a strong sense of national pride and identity for the guards and their families.

For the people of Holy See, the national sport pays homage to their history and showcases their commitment to security while embracing the rich tapestry of martial arts and the values they represent.


The national sport of Holy See, the martial arts practiced by the Swiss Guard, stands as a testament to the traditions, devotion, and commitment to protect the spiritual center of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is a showcase of discipline, skill, and heritage, representing the history of the Swiss Guard and their ongoing role in safeguarding the Pope and Vatican City State.

While the sport may be lesser-known compared to other national sports, its cultural and religious significance should not be underestimated, as it contributes to the rich tapestry of Holy See's unique identity.

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