Founded in 1816 by Black and white VII, reformed by Black and white IX, then dissolved by Paul VI the September 14th 1970, with two other pontifical armed bodies, the noble Guard and the palatine Guard , remaining like Body of vigilance of the State of the Vatican City , before taking its current name, the Gendarmerie is one of the security forces public of the the Vatican.

It is made up of 120 personnel, including 8 officers.


The functions of police force of state security and the people and the goods which are on the territory of the City of the the Vatican, as well as the functions of Judicial police and police force of the road traffic, exerted until in 1970 by the pontifical gendarmerie , were then reserved for the Corps of vigilance of the State of the Vatican City , composed of a little more than one hundred men (Agents of vigilance), depending directly on the pontifical Commission for the State of the Vatican City, under the terms of the Law n° CLXVIII of the March 25th 1991 emanating of this commission.

In 2002, the Pape Jean-Paul II decided to give the direction of the security services and of civil protection of the Vatican City to the Gendarmerie and the Firemen of the Vatican and the law n° CCCLXXIV of the January 2nd 2002 (coming into effect the 2002) replaced the denomination of 1970 in Corps of the Gendarmerie of the State of the Vatican City , by preserving the structure and the functions of the body of vigilance.

In addition to the internal safety of the State, the gendarmes have the role the protection and the defense of Sovereign pontiff including during his displacements out of the the Vatican. On the Place Saint-Pierre and in Italy, this mission is ensured in collaboration with the Italian security forces, under the terms of the Concordat of 1929. Out of the borders of the the Vatican, the safety close to the Pope is ensured by the gendarmes in agreement with the authorities of police force of the country host.

The May 13rd 1981, after having drawn on Jean-Paul II, the Turk Alì Agca was blocked on the Place Saint-Pierre by the gendarmerie vaticane which immediately gave it to the Italian police force.

Exterior security of Vatican City is ensured by security forces Italian, which has a Inspectorat of public safety close the Vatican , whose staff is located Piazza Citta Leonina, with some steps of the colonnades of the Place Saint-Pierre.

Recruitment and organization

The gendarmes are recruited among the old Italian citizens from 20 to 25 years, of tested catholic faith and former members of the Italian security forces (polizia, police officers, guard of finance), measuring at least 1m74. The pupils gendarmes are established after two years of training course, at the conclusion of a special examination of aptitude.

The gendarmes live in barracks during their the first two years of service. They ensure the faction the guardrooms of the Poste vaticane, of the railway Gare, the Héliport, the Gouvernatorat, like with the entry of the Musée S, in Annone ( Supermarché of the the Vatican) and in the gardens of the the Vatican. They have in load the control of circulation in the Vatican City. Their service is carried out by 48 hour old bearing.

The gendarmerie is organized hierarchically: The discipline and operation are spring of the general inspector.

The general inspector is assisted of an vice-inspector vicar and a vice inspector.


The ranks of the gendarmerie of the State of the Vatican City are:
  • Agente (agent),
  • Agente scelto (selected agent ),
  • Vice assistente (vice assistant),
  • Assistente (assistant).

Promotions of rank take place after seven years of career for the personnel noted at the “optimal” level.


The gendarmes are currently equipped with an automatic pistol Glock 17 (parabellum 9mm), carried in an apparent way. They also have some more powerful weapons, like the machine pistols Beretta M12, also used by the Italian police force. Against possible riots they have in equipment of the telescopic sticks, the pulverizers to pepper and teargases.


Formerly vêtus, at the time of the ceremonies, like the pomegranate S of the Empire, the gendarmes currently carry in servicing a gray behavior with a cap to the weapons of the the Holy See. For certain services of honor, they preserve the uniform of the old pontifical gendarmerie, either the small behavior with the Képi, or the great behavior with the Bearskin and the white aglets, inherited, like those of the French gendarmes, the uniform of the military household of the King de France.


A chaplain is affected with the gendarmerie vaticane. This station at held summer of many years by Mgr Virgilio Noah, currently cardinal of the title of Notre-Dame Queen of the apostles.


The Italian gendarmes, citizens, do not have the citizenship vaticane, contrary to the Swiss guards which obtain it, in a temporary way, throughout their service.

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