The Corps of Foreign Volunteers of the Patrimony of Saint Peter (also known as the Pontifical Zouaves) is an all volunteer paramilitary organisation dedicated to defending the Holy Father, The Holy See and Catholics in general.
The Corps is an international organisation with regiments in more then a dozen countries, usually those with a strong roman catholic culture.
Officially,they can only be used to defend the papal states and as can never be deployed against fellow countrymen. The armament used by the various regiments is limited on their home soil as local governments tend to be wary of well armed force with foreign allegiance within their borders.
In the mid nineteenth century, the Papacy was granted independence from the French Empire during the Royal Restoration as a sign of renewed religiosity. Its borders however were immediately threatened as Lombardy and the Two-Sicilies tried to expand their territories at its detriment.
The man put in charge of organizing the defence was retired french general Lapin who decided to suplement the same pontifical army with International volunteers. After assembling an état-major made up of devout catholics of either Roman or French origin, he sent out a call-to-arms to all countries loyal to the pope. The answer was overwhelming and within a year, thousands of men were training abroad, ready to join the fight as modern-day crusaders fighting against those that would destroy the Church. As a sign of distinction, the uniform worn by the volunteers was patterned on the costume worn by the Algerian zwavas with which General Lapin has served previously. It is from these peoples that the volunteers gained their nickname.
To this day, the zouaves have stayed a civilian volunteer organization (from a legal standpoint), and each national regiments can be considered in the same way as one would the local lodge of a fraternal order: they might have member all over the world but each section is a separate legal entities and them going to war would in no way implicate their respective motherland. Nonetheless, they are an organization who come to the assistance of the Patrimony of Saint Peter upon being called up by the Pope of Rome, and when their duty is done, go home again with the thanks of the Roman people and pontifical blessings.
Some who have distinguished themselves over the years have been granted citizenship or positions within the "Maison-Mère" which coordinates the Zouave efforts in Rome.
The only times when they will serve in any official capacities outside of the Papal States are when Catholic holy sites are threatened and only then with the approval of the relevant authorities. This as happened at least twice during the last century:
- Officially, the zouaves served during the Castilean Civil War only to protect Santiago de la Compostela although some privately joined up on the falangist side.
- During GW2 many contingents were activated to insure the integrality of the papal states and later in the war, some were deployed to protect Avignon during the aborted invasion of France by the German Empire.
In times of peace, they are seen more as a social club, members helping one another, doing charity work and once in a while, dressing up for religious processions in their respective country.
The corps is divided into a number of regiments, each representing a country. Each regiment is then divided into battalions (based on regional/ethnic divisions) and companies (the smallest unit and local chapter).
Each regiment is commanded by a colonel and the Corps as a whole is headed by the Grand Colonel. The Corps of Pontifical Zouaves was created in the late 19th century when the sovereignty of the patrimony of Saint Peter was threatened by some of its neighbours. After they ensured the sovereignty of the Papal States, they would next serve during the 1st and 2nd great war to protect its borders against foreign invasions.
Many zouaves have served unofficially at other times when conflicts might have threatened catholic holy sites such as saint-joseph-de-la-compostel during the castelian civil war.
In time of peace, they acted more of social clubs with members helping one another, doing charity works and once in a while, dressing up for processions.
The Corps of Pontifical Zouaves is divided into regiments (based on countries) as well as battalion (based on ethnic or subnational divisions)
1st French Regiment
- 1st Battalion (Brittany)
- (2nd) Saint Louis Battalion (Francy)
- (3rd) Saint Thomas More Battalion (Walloonia)
- 4th Battalion (Walloonia)
- 5th Battalion (Brittany)
- 6th Battalion (Walloonia)
2nd Batavian Regiment
3rd Jervan Regiment
4th Bavarian Regiment
5th French Regiment
- 1st Battalion (Walloonia)
- 2th Battalion (Walloonia)
- 3th Battalion (Walloonia)
- 4th Battalion (Brittany)
- 5th Battalion (Walloonia)
- 6th Battalion (Walloonia)
6th Neofrancian Regiment
- 1st Battalion (Laurentian)
- 2nd Battalion (Francian)
- 3rd Battalion (Laurentian)
7th Batavian Regiment
(8th) Regiment of Saint Patrick (Ireland)
(9th) Regiment of Saint Virgil (Austria)
10th Castilean Regiment
11th Venedic Regiment
rank titles are of french origin though many regiments have adopted titles that reflects the local language. Below are the original french rank titles:
- sous-lieutenant: officer in training.
- lieutenant: Deputy Commander of a Company or commanding a platoon.
- Capitaine: Commanding a Company
- Adjudant-Commandant: deputy commander of a battalion
- Commandant: Commanding a battalion
- Lieutenant-Colonel: Deputy-commander of a regiment
- Colonel: commanding a regiment
- Adjudant-General: Commander in chief of the Zouaves. There are no higher ranks within the zouaves as, in time of conflicts, they place themselves under the command of the Papal States' General Staff.
- red belt (infantry)
- yellow belt (internal security)
A youth auxiliary. Members are between 8-13 years old. Their uniform is a Grey cap, shirt & slacks, red tie & belt
A youth auxiliary. Members are between 14-18 years old. Their uniform is a Plain grey zouave uniforms with a red undershirt.
A female auxiliary. Their uniform is the same jacket as the zouaves but worn with a grey skirt.