The Swiss Guard’s main duties at the Vatican are providing security services, protecting the Pope and his residence, and providing honor guards at the main entrances, at public audiences, at Masses and at diplomatic receptions. The Guard’s 150 year old barracks is where most of the guardsmen live and it is very cramped with only 12 single rooms and with much of the space needed to be shared. The living situation was made worse in 2018, when Pope Francis increased the number of guardsmen from 110 to 135. So a new barracks building has been proposed and preliminary building plans were approved by the Vatican in 2020. Jean –Pierre Roth the director of the foundation that was set up for the renovation said the new project will construct a modern building with 123 single rooms on four floors. It will meet current building and safety codes, and be environmentally friendly. He says it will cost bout $60 million which includes the costs to house the guardsmen elsewhere while the old barracks is demolished and the new one constructed. The Foundation will pay for the new barracks from fundraisers and outside donors. An architectural firm from Switzerland is designing the new building and there will be single rooms with bathrooms for the 135 guardsmen as well as additional apartments for the families  who are currently living outside the Vatican walls in Rome. In the past, only guardsmen in the leadership ranks of corporal or higher were allowed to marry, but the Vatican has relaxed the rules and although recruits still may not be married when they first join, they are now allowed to marry earlier and start a family. There are currently no vacant apartments in the Vatican and the new building will allow guardsmen with families to live onsite and allow them to be part of a close-knit community. The design of the new barracks will also make it possible for the Vatican to integrate woman in the guard if it decides to do so. Women have been allowed to serve voluntarily in all military functions in the Swiss army since 2001. It is mandatory that all able-bodied men serve in the Swiss Army. The design of the new building is flexible enough to allow for a separate women’s section. Swiss Guard Commander Colonel Daniel Anrig says that he would love to allow female recruits, but he would only do so when the housing situation improves and the Vatican says OK. While the preliminary building plans were approved by the Vatican, they still need approval by the City of Rome and by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) since the Vatican is considered a World Heritage Site. Pope Francis has said that “The life I lead would be inconceivable without the Swiss guardsmen. They are always at my side – day and night.” It is all the more important that they can rely on modern and secure accommodations at the Vatican, which becomes a second home for their wives and children, too.