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Thursday, March 7, 2013

VATICAN City: Historical FACTS and ODDITIES.

The Vatican announced and already implemented Pope Benedict XVI's resignation on Feb. 28. The sudden announcement caught Catholics around the world off guard- becoming the first pontiff to step down in nearly 600 years. This puts focus once again not only on the Papacy itself but the Vatican structure itself. Below are some quick historical facts and some oddities on Vatican City:

How did the Vatican City Come into Existence.

This is a souvenir of the creation of the Vatican State by the Lateran Pacts. Its “trinity” of 
King Victor Emmanuel IIIPope Pius XIand Il Duce (The Leader) Benito Mussolini celebrates the 
new unity of temporal and spiritual authority. This accommodation between church and state was 
called the “peace of Laetitia” (pax Laetitia) after the Roman Goddess of Joy. However, it helped legitimize 
a regime that by 1929 had already spread terror by political assassination, military tribunals and a police state.
Considered geographically as a part of Italy, the Vatican City actually stands out as an independent country. The Lateran Treaty established the state after a long series of disputes with the Italian government. The Treaty made Vatican City independent in 1929 and with that the Roman Catholics earned a special place in Italy.

What is the capital of Vatican City?

The capital of the state of Vatican City is Vatican City. It is the only city inside a city. The Holy See is the smallest independent state in the world, covering an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres). The Vatican City is home to a population of about 812 (as of December 2011).
Stato della Città del Vaticano is the official name given to the Vatican City. It simply means "State of the City of the Vatican". Vatican finds its origin in Latin and comes from the word Mons Vaticanus, meaning "Vatican Mount". Rome, the capital of Italy, completely surrounds the area of the Vatican.

Why is Vatican City called the 'Holy See'

'See' as a noun means "the seat or office of a bishop". 'Holy See' means the see of the bishop of Rome. Therefore, the term refers to the city-state of Vatican because it happens to be the territory in which the Pope resides. The term as used by the United Nations refers not to the city of Vatican but to the government of the Roman Catholic Church. It is this government, not Vatican City, which is represented at the UN.


St. Peter's Basilica from the River Tiber. The iconic dome dominates the skyline of Rome.

Built over the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle, St. Peter's Basilica was constructed during the 4th century. It was rebuilt in the 16th century and today is a major tourist attraction.

 Pope Benedict XVI receives greetings from Roman Curia and pontifical family
at the Clementina Hall on December 22, 2008 in Vatican City, Vatican. 
Autocracy is the form of government with the Pope has complete power. He is assisted by a body of agencies known as the 'Curia'.

It has no armed forces. Italy provides this Vatican City with military defense.The current military force of the Vatican constitutes The Pontifical Swiss Guards, better known as the Vatican Guards, who originally served as personal bodyguards to the Pope.

Importing food, water, electricity, gas and other necessary essentials is a must.

No income tax is exercised and no restrictions are laid on the import or export of money.
The Vatican City has its own post office.
from ropcorn.com
The Vatican's own Post Office is popular among the Romans owing to its speed as compared to the Italian mail. They also issue their own stamps.
former Pope; Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square, Rome, 2010
The Pope, Cardinals, members of the Swiss Guard and Clergy are issued their own passport by the Vatican City. The Vatican City has no diplomatic service as such; these relations are handled by the Holy See.

About 8% of their yearly taxes can be donated by the Italians to the Vatican instead of paying it to the Italian Government.

The UNESCO has declared the Vatican a World Heritage Site- the only site to encompass a whole country.
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
from italytravelista.com
The world-famous Vatican museums extend over 9 miles and is believed that it would take you 4 years to complete the circuit even if you spend merely 1 minute admiring each painting!

Loggia of the Benediction is the name given to the balcony upon which the newly elected Pope stands. The first blessing called Urbi et Orbi is recited by the Pope from this balcony, when it is heard by millions of people all over the world.

The languages spoken by the people of Vatican City include Latin,Italian, French, and English. It has the highest literacy rate of hundred percent. However, surprisingly, it has not established any language as official, under law.
Institute for Works of ReligionIstituto per le Opere di Religione
ATM users in Vatican City are still given the option to use Latin to perform transactions. The Institute for Works of Religion (ItalianIstituto per le Opere di Religione – IOR), commonly known as the Vatican Bank is the only one in the world to do so.

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