Portal:Vatican City

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Vatican City About this sound /ˈvætɪkən ˈsɪti/ , officially the State of the Vatican City (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano), is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Sancta Sedes).

Vatican City was established as an independent state in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri, on behalf of Pope Pius XI and by Prime Minister Benito Mussolini on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. The treaty spoke of the Vatican City State as a new creation (Preamble and Article III), not as a vestige of the much larger Papal States (756–1870) that had previously encompassed much of central Italy.

The Vatican City State is distinct from the Holy See, which dates back to early Christianity and is the main episcopal see of 1.2 billion Latin and Eastern Catholic adherents around the globe. Ordinances of Vatican City are published in Italian; official documents of the Holy See are issued mainly in Latin.

The Vatican City State is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose main territory consists of an enclave within the city of Rome. At approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and with a population of around 800, it is the smallest country in the world by both area and population.

The ruler of the Vatican City State is the Bishop of Rome—the Pope, whose habitual official residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace, is located on its territory. This makes the Vatican the only remaining absolute monarchy in Europe. The highest state functionaries are all clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church.

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Vatican Palace
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Vatican Palace: the gardens from the museum.

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The Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes) is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome. The primacy of Rome makes its bishop the worldwide leader of the Catholic Church, commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, the Holy See acts and speaks for the whole Catholic Church. It is also recognized by other subjects of international law as a sovereign entity, headed by the Pope, with which diplomatic relations can be maintained."[1][2]

Although it is often referred to as "the Vatican", the Holy See is not the same entity as the Vatican City State, which came into existence only in 1929; the Holy See, the episcopal see of Rome, dates back to early Christian times. Ambassadors are officially accredited not to the Vatican City State but to "the Holy See", and papal representatives to states and international organizations are recognized as representing the Holy See, not the Vatican City State.

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Vatican during the Savoyard Era 1870-1929 describes the relation of the Vatican to Italy, after 1870, which marked the end of the Papal State and 1929, when the papacy regained autonomy in the Lateran Treaty.

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A post-restoration section of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which includes the two panels reproduced above.

The restoration of the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel was one of the most significant art restorations of the 20th century. The Sistine Chapel was built by Pope Sixtus IV within the Vatican immediately to the north of St. Peter's Basilica and completed in about 1481. Its walls were decorated by a number of Renaissance painters who were among the most highly regarded artists of late 15th century Italy, including Ghirlandaio, Perugino, and Botticelli. The Chapel was further enhanced under Pope Julius II by the painting of the ceiling by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 and by the painting of the Last Judgment, commissioned by Pope Clement VII and completed in 1541, again by Michelangelo. The tapestries on the lowest tier, today best known from the Raphael Cartoons (painted designs) of 1515–16, completed the ensemble.

Together the paintings make up the greatest pictorial scheme of the Renaissance. Individually, some of Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling are among the most notable works of western art ever created. The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and in particular the ceiling and accompanying lunettes by Michelangelo have been subject to a number of restorations, the most recent taking place between 1980 and 1994. This most recent restoration had a profound effect on art lovers and historians, as colours and details that had not been seen for centuries were revealed.
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  1. ^ Text taken directly from http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/country-profile/europe/holy-see/ (viewed on December 14, 2011), on the website of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
  2. ^ The Holy See's sovereignty has been recognized explicitly in many international agreements and is particularly emphasized in article 2 of the Lateran Treaty of 11 February 1929, in which "Italy recognizes the sovereignty of the Holy See in the international field as an inherent attribute of its nature, in conformity with its tradition, and the requirements of its mission in the world."
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