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Protecting a pope who breaks all the rules -- and then some

Pope Francis' trip to America poses security challenges 02:57

Pope Francis is preparing for his North American trip, as he visits Cuba this weekend before arriving in the United States next week. Francis will make stops in Washington, Philadelphia and New York City.

The 10-day, six-city and 11,500-mile Papal trip is packed with events that make it interesting if exhausting for those traveling in the Vatican press pool, reports CBS News' Allen Pizzey. But for those charged with making sure Francis gets to do everything he wants - safely -- it's all of that and a huge challenge more.

In Vatican City, the Swiss Guards have 500 years of experience protecting popes.

When the Pope Francis hits American streets next week, a major challenge for police and the Secret Service will be figuring out the difference between a threat and what's "normal" for a VIP who values contact with people above his own safety.

As one Swiss Guard officer said off the record, when it comes to guarding Pope Francis, "We've had to put on our Nikes."

Francis breaks all the rules -- and then some.

Accepting and apparently drinking offerings of his favorite Argentinean tea that have not been checked for poison is a regular feature of his weekly venture into St. Peter's Square.

Imagine how Secret Service agents would react if someone thrust a lighted birthday cake in the direction of President Obama?

Francis took it and blew out the candles.

How far will a pizza maker get if he tries to chase the pope through Central Park the way someone in Naples did after Francis said he missed going out for the Italian staple?

When his motorcade was mobbed in Rio de Janeiro, Francis didn't order his driver to hit the gas. He rolled down the windows to shake hands.

On a trip to the Holy Land, an area renowned for fanatics of all stripes, the Israelis desperately wanted him to use a bullet-proof Popemobile. Francis dismissed it as "a sardine can" and reportedly offered to sign a waiver accepting responsibility for his own safety.

For those with the unenviable task of keeping this single-minded, people-oriented pope safe in America, footwear advice from the Swiss Guards may well be useful.

It's worth noting that the Swiss Guards don't just stand around in colorful uniforms holding axes. They're also part of the pope's plainclothes close protection team and are trained on the same kind of lethal weapons as the Secret Service.

How the two services perceive and react to any potential threats will be fascinating to say the least.

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