Father Kunst has a very close connection with the Swiss Guard. When The Vatican Comes to Duluth exhibit was presented in Duluth, Minnesota, in October 2004, Father Kunst requested a flag of the Swiss Guard for this event. They responded by sending a replica of Pope John Paul II’s flag.
After visiting with the commandant they also agreed to loan a fully tailored uniform for the exhibit. They made it based on a manikin that Father Kunst had.
The first letter is the agreement that Father Kunst signed stating all the items that were associated with the uniform that he himself brought back to the United States would be returned and not worn. In this letter every item is noted from the shoes to the beret.
The second letter is from Colonel Mader, dated October 2004.
In exchange for using the uniform for the exhibit in Duluth, Minnesota, the commandant requested the use of a uniform Father Kunst’s owns from the pontificate of St. Pius X. In the Swiss Guard’s armory they do not own an item like Father Kunst has.
Uniforms changed up until 1914 when each papacy would modify the piping on the jacket to reflect the current pope’s coat of arms.
Upon the death of St. Pius X they returned to the original uniform which dates to Pope Julius II who reigned from 1503-1513. So the uniforms we see today are indicative of those seen from as far back as the 1500s.
The one shown in this collection denotes the time when the piping on the uniform was altered to reflect the current papacy. However that all stopped in 1914.
In the end, while the Swiss Guard made a uniform for Father Kunst’s collection, they never used his.
One reason his uniform is so unique is because it shows that even in the Vatican they don’t have some of the items Father Kunst has.
The agreements were signed between Father Richard Kunst and Major Peter Hasler. He is historically significant because he is the longest serving guardsman in the 500-year history of the Guard.
The Swiss Guard is the longest standing army in the world.
Replica of John Paul II’s Flag
This replica flag was a gift from the Swiss Guard to Father Kunst in honor of The Vatican Comes to Duluth in 2004.
Initially Father Kunst asked them if they could produce a flag for this event and they responded by producing a replica of John Paul II’s flag.
Each flag has, in the upper hoist on the left-hand side, the coat of arms of the present pope. In the lower hoist on the bottom right-hand side, is the coat of arms of Julius II, known as the Warrior Pope. He started the Swiss Guard in the 16th century. In the center is the coat of arms of the Guard Commandant, Colonel Elmar Theodor Madar.
There are two images on each flag containing the colors of the Guard as well. They are always blue, yellow and red. These are the colors of the Medici Pope, Clement VII, for whom many Swiss Guards gave their lives in 1527.