Has anyone not heard of the Lötschental Grenadiers of God? Along with the womenfolk in their brightly-coloured Lötschental traditional costumes they have been part of the solemn processions held on Christian holidays since time immemorial. A piece of living culture that is still celebrated today with love and a sense of honour and one that the locals are happy to share with visitors to the valley. The Grenadiers of God can be seen taking part in the processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi, on Benediction Sunday (the Sunday following Corpus Christi), at dedication services (these vary from village to village), to celebrate the arrival of a new priest and during "Primiz" celebrations (to celebrate the first mass of a recently ordained priest from the Lötschental).
Today, as each of the Lötschental villages forms its own parish, these processions with the Grenadiers of God take place in each of the villages in the valley (Ferden, Kippel, Wiler, and Blatten). In the morning, the Grenadiers of God take part in mass and the following procession; in the afternoon they take part in a parade that has a more cosmopolitan character. During their second appearance, the village flag and sometimes also the valley flag are flown to the accompaniment of the local music society.
These "red soldiers" are a legacy from ancient soldiering days. For centuries many residents of the Lötschental have made a living for themselves in far-flung countries. According to the death register, 6 men from the Lötschental, for example, fell in 1644 at the Battle of Lerida in Catalonia. The white silk banner with red cross (Savoyard cross), which is kept in the parish archive in Kippel, also goes back to this time and the year 1625. The men of the Lötschental were also active at the royal courts of Versailles and Naples - it is from there that the uniforms of the Grenadiers of God originate. The soldiers returned to their villages, brought their parade uniforms with them and wear them again at Christian festivals in honour of God.
The Grenadiers of God are always dressed as follows: with white breeches and scarlet tunics with gold buttons and epaulettes, with white crossed holders for swords and cartridge bags, with a tall plume and a pistol (carabineer or Swiss Army rifle) on their shoulders. The hat varies according to rank and function.
Constables and sergeants wear a cocked hat with flowing plumes. The
Grenadiers at the front of the processions wear bearskin hats, while those at the rear wear old military caps, not dissimilar to the hats of the Fourth Neapolitan Regiment. The uniforms were handed down from generation to generation but very few of them are authentic uniforms today. The tunics can be purchased from uniform tailors - the swords, plumes and epaulettes are generally handed on to the Lötschental Grenadiers from the Swiss Guard in Rome.