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Beefing up security: Blacksmiths forge new suit of armor for bulkier Vatican guards
Swiss Guards stand before Pope Benedict XVI makes an address from a balcony in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City on Dec. 25, 2012.Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters, file
The Vatican has contracted a family of blacksmiths in an Austrian village to manufacture 80 new sets of armor in a project that will take seven years to complete.
Most of the existing armor worn by the Vatican's Swiss Guard dates back at least 100 years when people were generally smaller than they are today, so the existing armor does not always fit today's bulkier guards.
The firm of blacksmiths, Schmiede Schmidberger, is a family-run operation that has been in existence since the year 1350.