Current Weather
The Spy FM

How Swiss Guards And Sacred Geese Saved Rome

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
May 6, 2012

Maybe you’ve heard of the Sack of Rome? Not a paper or cloth bag, but more in the way a quarterback experiences it – attacked and plundered.

On May 6, 1527, mutinous troops of Charles V, head of the Holy Roman Empire — which is sometimes described as neither holy, Roman nor an empire — surpassed the horrors of earlier barbarian invasions. Churches and palaces were looted, nuns assaulted and citizens tortured and killed.

At the Vatican, the Swiss Guard was almost completely wiped out defending St. Peter’s Basilica, fighting on the steps of the high altar. Pope Clement VII had to escape through the Passetto — the secret passageway made famous by the Dan Brown novel Angels & Demons — into the fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo, pretty much ending the Italian Renaissance.

In commemoration of the event, the swearing-in ceremony for new recruits to the Swiss Guard is held today, May 6, each year.

The 1527 Sack of Rome is only the last time the city was savaged — so far, anyway. The Eternal City has actually been sacked a number of times, with varying levels of damage. The first raiders were the Gauls, about 2,400 years ago.

The Gauls had conquered all of the city except for the Capitoline Hill, which the Romans defended vigorously. According to legend, Gallic troops tried to sneak up the hill during the night, but disturbed a sacred flock of geese which lived in the temple of Juno. Their honking was loud enough to alert the Roman guards, who threw the invaders off the holy hill.

Later attempts to destroy Rome were made by Alaric and the Goths, who swooped down from the north in 410 CE, then by the Vandals in 455 and the Suebians in 472. After Gothic kings had taken over the governing of Rome, they saw the city assaulted by their “cousins,” the Ostrogoths in 535 and 553. The Saracens arrived in 846, followed by the Normans two centuries later. For the past 500 years, all the invasions of Rome have been of the tourist variety. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center