What was the Noble Pontifical Guard?

Introduction The Noble Guard (Italian: Guardia Nobile) was one of the household guard units serving the Pope, and formed part of the military in Vatican City. It was formed by Pope Pius VII in 1801 as a regiment of heavy cavalry. Conceived as the Pope’s personal guard, the unit provided a mounted escort for the… Read More


What was the Gonfalone of the Church?

Introduction The Banner of the Holy Roman Church (Latin: Vexillum; Italian: Gonfalone di Santa Romana Chiesa, occasionally Vessilio di San Pietro, “Standard of Saint Peter”) was the battle standard of the Papal States during the Renaissance and a symbol of the Catholic Church. The office of the Gonfalonier of the Church was originally intended to… Read More

What was the Gonfalonier of the Church?

Introduction The gonfalonier of the Church or papal gonfalonier (Italian: Gonfaloniere della Chiesa, “standard-bearer”; Latin: Vexillifer Ecclesiæ) was a military and political office of the Papal States. Refer to Gonfalone of the Church. Background Originating from the use of the Papal banner during combat, the office later became largely ceremonial and political. At his nomination,… Read More

What was the Captain General of the Church?

Introduction The captain general of the Church (Italian: Capitano generale della Chiesa) was the de facto commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Papal States during the Middle Ages. Background The post was usually conferred on an Italian or other noble with a professional military reputation or (later) a relative of the pope. The parallel… Read More