Vatican City, Holy See:
A Swiss Guard passed out during Pope Francis’ weekly audience on Wednesday and slammed to the ground, still holding his halberd, as a concerned pope looked on.
The young man, a member of the colorful armed body charged with protecting the Pope, fell over while a religious text was being read, an AFP photographer said.
He can be seen in photos lying face down in his signature red, yellow and blue striped outfit, with his plumed helmet, with his red feather on it, still in place.
The man, who looked pale, was pulled to his feet almost immediately and helped out of the Paul VI auditorium.
At the end of the audience, the 85-year-old pope broke from his routine to speak with a plainclothes Swiss Guard.
A Vatican spokesman told AFP that the guard “probably had a drop in blood pressure”.
The small city-state has been experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures expected to reach 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday.
The Swiss Guard constitutes the world’s smallest army, with a total of 135 members, and their members must be practicing Roman Catholics, Swiss citizens, between 19 and 30 years old and at least 1.47 meters in height. They must also be single, although they can get married later.
They undertake to protect the Pope for at least 26 months.
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