Vatican -- Geography --
Official Name: State of the Vatican City (Holy See)
Languages: Italian, Latin, others
Land Area: 0.44sq km
Landforms: It all sits on a low hill.
Land Division: none
Vatican -- History --
It is supposed that this originally uninhabited part of Rome (the ager vaticanus) had always been considered sacred, or at least not available for habitation, even before the arrival of Christianity. In 326 the first church, Constantine's basilica, was built over the site of the tomb of Saint Peter, who was buried in a common cemetery on the spot, and from then on the area started to become more populated, but mostly only by dwelling houses connected with the activity of St Peter's.
Popes in their secular role gradually came to govern neighbouring regions and, through the Papal States, ruled a large portion of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid 19th century, when most of the territory of the Papal States was seized by the newly created Kingdom of Italy. For much of this time the Vatican was not the habitual residence of the Popes, but rather the Lateran Palace, and in recent centuries, the Quirinal Palace, while the residence from 1309-1377 was at Avignon in France.
In 1870, the Pope's holdings were left in an uncertain situation when Rome itself was annexed by the Piedmontese after a nominal resistance of the papal forces. The popes were left between 1870 and 1929 in a situation somewhat like that of the last emperor of China, undisturbed in their palace, but with no official status recognized by the Italian State. Other states maintained international recognition of the Holy See as a sovereign entity, and in practice Italy made no attempt to interfere with the Holy See. During this period it became fashionable to speak of the Pope as a "prisoner". This situation was resolved on February 11, 1929 under the premiership of Mussolini by the three Lateran treaties, which established the independent State of the Vatican City and granted Catholicism special status in Italy. The cathedra (official seat) of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, is in the Lateran basilica, Rome's cathedral. The Lateran is on one of the seven hills of Rome, the Caelian. In 1984, a new concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified certain provisions of the earlier treaty, including the position of Catholicism as the Italian state religion.
Vatican -- Economy --
Budget: Revenues (2003) $252 million; expenditures (2003) $264 million. Industries: printing and production of few mosaics and staff uniforms; worldwide banking and financial activities. This unique, non-commercial economy is also supported financially by contributions (known as Peter's Pence) from Roman Catholics throughout the world, the sale of postage stamps and tourist mementos, fees for admission to museums, and the sale of publications. The incomes and living standards of lay workers are comparable to, or somewhat better than, those of counterparts who work in the city of Rome.Vatican City has used the Euro as its currency since January 1, 2002. It has its own bank, Vatican Bank.Almost all of Vatican City's 921 citizens live inside the Vatican's walls. The Vatican citizenry consists mainly of clergy, including high dignitaries, priests, nuns, as well as the famous Swiss Guard, a volunteer military force. There are also about 3,000 lay workers who comprise the majority of the Vatican work force, but who reside outside the Vatican.
Vatican -- Culture --
The Vatican City is itself of great cultural significance. Buildings such as St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are home to some of the most beautiful art in the world, which includes works by artists such as Botticelli, Bernini and Michelangelo. The Vatican Library and the collections of the Vatican Museums are of the highest historical, scientific and cultural importance.
The Basilica of Saint Peter, officially known in Italian as the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano and colloquially called Saint Peter's Basilica, ranks second among the five major basilicas of Rome and its Vatican City enclave. The second largest church in Christianity, it covers an area of 23,000 m? (5.7 acres); and has a capacity of over 60,000 people. One of the holiest sites of Christendom, it is the burial site of basilica namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, first Bishop of Antioch, and later first Bishop of Rome. Tradition holds that his tomb is below the baldachino and altar; for this reason, many Popes, starting with the first ones, have been buried there. The current basilica was started in 1506 and completed in 1626, and was built over the Constantinian basilica.Although the Vatican basilica is not the Pope's official ecclesiastical seat (i.e. Saint John Lateran), it is most certainly his principal church, as most Papal ceremonies take place at St. Peter's due to its size, proximity to the Papal residence, and location within the Vatican City walls. The basilica also holds a relic of the Cathedra Petri, the episcopal throne of the basilica's namesake when he led the Roman church, but which is no longer used as the Papal cathedra.
The dome or cupola was designed by Michelangelo, who became chief architect in 1546. At the time of his death (1564), the dome was finished as far as the drum, the base on which domes sit. The dome was vaulted between 1585 and 1590 by the architect Giacomo della Porta with the assistance of Domenico Fontana, who was probably the best engineer of the day. Fontana built the lantern the following year, and the ball was placed in 1593.
As built, the double dome is brick, 42.3 m (138.8 ft) in interior diameter (almost as large as the Pantheon), rising to 120 m (394 ft) above the floor. In the pocket 18th century cracks appeared in the dome, so four iron chains were installed between the two shells to bind it, like the rings that keep a barrel from bursting. (Visitors who climb the spiral stairs between the dome shells can glimpse them.) The four piers of the crossing that support it are each 18 metres (59 ft) across. It is not simply its vast scale (136.57 m or 448.06 ft from the floor of the church to the top of the added cross) that makes it extraordinary . Michelangelo's dome is not a hemisphere, but a paraboloid: it has a vertical thrust, which is made more emphatic by the bold ribbing that springs from the paired Corinthian columns, which appear to be part of the drum, but which stand away from it like buttresses, to absorb the outward thrust of the dome's weight. The grand arched openings just visible in the illustration but normally invisible to viewers below, enable access (not to the public) all around the base of the drum; they are dwarfed by the monumental scale of their surroundings. Above, the vaulted dome rises to Fontana's two-stage lantern, capped with a spire.The egg-shaped dome exerts less outward thrust than a lower hemispheric one (like Mansart's at Les Invalides) would have done. The dome conceived by Donato Bramante at the outset in 1503, was planned to be carried out with a single masonry shell, a plan that was discovered not to be feasible. San Gallo came up with the double shell, and Michelangelo improved on it. The piers at the crossing which were the first masonry to be laid, which were intended to support the original dome, were a constant concern, too slender in Bramante's plan, they were redesigned several times as the dome plans evolved.
The Sistine Chapel (Italian: Cappella Sistina) is a chapel in the Palace of the Vatican, the official residence of the Roman Catholic Pope in the Vatican City. It was built between 1475 and 1483, in the time of Pope Sixtus IV, and is one of the most famous churches of the Western World. The name Sistine is derived from the Italian sistino meaning of or pertaining to Sixtus IV.It is known worldwide both for being the hall in which conclaves and other official ceremonies are held, including some papal coronations, and for having been decorated by Michelangelo. It is located to the north of St. Peter's Basilica, after the Scala Regia, and originally served as the Palatine chapel inside the old Vatican fortress.The chapel is rectangular and measures 40.93 meters long by 13.41 meters wide (the dimensions of the Temple of Solomon, as given in the Old Testament). It is 20.70 meters high and is roofed by a flattened barrel vault, with small side vaults over the 6 centered windows. The pavement (15th century) is in opus alexandrinum.A transenna in marble by Mino da Fiesole, Andrea Bregno and Giovanni Dalmata divides the chapel into two parts; the wider one, together with the altar, is reserved for proper religious ceremonies and other clergy uses, and the smaller one for the faithful. The passage (cancellata, gateway) was originally in gilt iron and more central; it was moved toward the faithful area to grant a wider space for the pope. By the same artists is the Cantoria, the space for the chorus.During important ceremonies, side walls are covered with a series of tapestries (by Raphael) depicting events from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.The architectural plans were made by Baccio Pontelli and the construction work was supervised by Giovannino de Dolci between 1473 and 1484, at the orders of Sixtus IV.The first mass in the Sistine Chapel was celebrated on August 9, 1483, as a ceremony by which it was consecrated and dedicated to the Assumption of the virgin Mary. The wall paintings were executed by premier painters of the Quattrocento: Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Rosellini, Signorelli and their respective workshops, which included Pinturicchio, Piero di Cosimo and Bartolomeo della Gatta. The subjects were historical religious themes, selected and divided according to the medieval concept of the partition of the world history into three epochs: before the Ten Commandments were given to Moses, between Moses and Christ's birth, and the Christian era thereafter. They underline the continuity between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, or the transition from the Mosaic law to the Christian religion.
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, colloquially known as Michelangelo, (March 6, 1475 - February 18, 1564) was a Renaissance sculptor, architect, painter, and poet. Michelangelo is famous for creating the fresco ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, as well as the Last Judgment over the altar, and The Martyrdom of St. Peter and The Conversion of St. Paul in the Vatican's Cappella Paolina; among his many sculptures are those of David and the Pieta, as well as the Doni Virgin, Bacchus, Moses, Rachel, Leah, and members of the Medici family; he also designed the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo was born near Arezzo, in Caprese, Tuscany, Italy in 1475. His father, Lodovico di Leonardo di Buonarotti di Simoni, was the resident magistrate in Caprese and podesta of Chiusi. His mother was Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena. As genealogies of the day indicated that the Buonarroti descended from Countess Matilda of Tuscany, the family was considered minor nobility. However, Michelangelo was raised in Florence and later lived with a sculptor and his wife in the town of Settignano where his father owned a marble quarry and a small farm. He also studied with Lorenzo De' Medici. Michelangelo stayed in several places in Italy during his lifetime including several periods staying in Florence, Bologna and Rome:
Florence (until 1494)
Venice and Bologna (1494-1496)
Rome (arrives 25 June 1496, stays until 1501) contract for Pieta in St Peters
Florence (1501-1505) marble David, twelve apostles
Rome (1505-1506) - Commissioned to execute Pope Julius II's tomb
Florence (secretly returned to Florence in 1506)
Bologna (1506-1509) - Summoned by Pope to make a bronze statue of him
Rome (1508-1516) - Sistine Chapel ceiling
Florence (1534) - Last stay in Florence
Rome (1534-1564) - Last judgement, completion of Julius' tomb, designed dome for St Peter's.
Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli ("little barrel") (Florence March 1, 1445 – May 17, 1510) was an Italian painter of the Florentine school during the Early Renaissance (Quattrocento). Less than a hundred years later, this movement, under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, was characterized by Giorgio Vasari as a "golden age", a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli. Born in Florence in the working-class rione of Ognissanti, Botticelli was first apprenticed to a goldsmith, then, following the boy's wishes, his doting father sent him to Fra Filippo Lippi who was at work frescoing the Convent of the Carmine. Lippo Lippi's synthesis of the new control of three-dimensional forms, tender expressiveness in face and gesture, and decorative details inherited from the late Gothic style were the strongest influences on Botticelli. A different influence was the new sculptural monumentality of the Pollaiuolo brothers, who were doing a series of Virtues for the Tribunale or meeting hall of the Mercanzia, a cloth-merchants' confraternity, and Botticello contributed to the set the Fortitude, dated 1470 in the Uffizi Gallery. He was an apprentice too of Andrea del Verrocchio, where Leonardo da Vinci worked beside him, but he made his name in his local Church of Ognissanti, with a St. Augustine that successfully competed as a pendant with Domenico Ghirlandaio's Jerome on the other side "the head of the saint being expressive of profound thought and quick subtlety" (Vasari). In 1470 he opened his own independent studio. Lorenzo de' Medici was quick to employ his talent. Botticelli made consistent use of the circular tondo form and did many beautiful female nudes, according to Vasari. The Birth of Venus was at the Medici villa of Castello. He was influenced in his art by Fra Filippo Lippi and Antonio Pollaiuolo. The repeated contacts with the Medici family were undoubtedly useful for granting him political protection and creating conditions ideal for his production of several masterpieces. Neoplatonism, with its fusion of pagan and Christian themes and its elevation of estheticism as a transcendental element of art, was deeply influential in his artwork, as it was with his patrons, the Medicis.Sandro was intensely religious. In later life, he was one of Savonarola's followers and burned his own paintings on pagan themes in the notorious "Bonfire of the Vanities".
Vatican -- Life style --
As a result of the Vatican having a small resident population, but millions of visitors every year, the state has the highest per capita crime rate of any nation on earth, more than twenty times higher than Italy. Each year, hundreds of tourists fall victim to pickpockets and purse snatchers. The perpetrators, who are also visitors, are rarely caught, with 90% of crimes remaining unsolved.
As the seat of the Papacy, the Vatican City and its predecessor, the Papal States, has played an important role in the development of Christian music. They perform chants of ancient origin, such as Gregorian chants, as well as modern polyphonic music. The papal choir is a well-known institution that dates back more than four hundred years. Singers were originally from northern Europe, but began arriving more from Spain and Italy in the 16th century. At this time, church authorities became concerned about the words of liturgical texts being drowned out by the traditional melodies. As a result, reformers like Palestrina revised the rules behind Gregorian chanting, which were printed by the Medici Press in Rome; these reforms continued to be followed to the present day.
Gregorian chant is also known as plainchant or plainsong and is a form of monophonic, unaccompanied singing, which was developed in the Catholic church, mainly during the period 800-1000. It takes its name from Pope St. Gregory the Great, who is believed to have brought it to the West based on Eastern models of Byzantine chant.This music was traditionally sung by monks or other male clerics and was used during religious services. It is the music of the Roman Rite of the Mass, also known as the Gregorian rite or Tridentine rite. Other rites of the mass, such as the Assyrian and the Coptic, use different melodies but share the unaccompanied and monophonic nature of the Gregorian, which allude to a common source.
Vatican -- Political system, law and government --
The Head of State is the Pope; the Heads of Government are the Secretary of State and Governor of Vatican City (sometimes referred to as the President of Vatican City). Currently, they are Pope Benedict XVI, a German; Angelo Cardinal Sodano, an Italian; and Edmund Cardinal Szoka, an American of Polish descent. The governance of the Holy See is separate, consisting of the Roman Curia, in turn consisting of members of the College of Cardinals. The Heads of Government are concurrently agents of the Roman Curia.
Vatican City is considered a non-hereditary elective monarchy with a sovereign who exercises absolute authority. The monarch exercises supreme legislative, executive and judicial power not only over Vatican City but also over the coextensive Holy See. The monarch is the Pope, elected for a life term in conclave by cardinals under the age of 80.The Pope appoints cardinals to seats in the Roman Curia with specific authority to administer Vatican City. The chief executive is the Governor of Vatican City (often called the President of Vatican City). He is given the duties normally assigned to a premier or prime minister in other countries. The chief executive of the larger Roman Catholic Church is the Secretary of State, specifically responsible for the foreign relations of Vatican City. Legislative power is given to the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State — members are appointed by the Pope to terms of five years.The term "Holy See" refers to the composite of the authority, jurisdiction, and sovereignty vested in the Pope and his advisers to direct the worldwide Roman Catholic Church. As the "central government" of the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy See has a legal standing that allows it to enter into treaties as the juridical equal of a state. The Pope delegates the internal administration of the Vatican City to the Pontifical Commission for the State of the Vatican City. The legal system is based on canon, or ecclesiastical, law; if canon law is not applicable, the laws of the city of Rome apply.During a sede vacante (papal vacancy), the Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, former Secretary of State, and former President of the Pontifical Commission form a commission that performs some of the functions of the head of state; while another made up of the Chamberlain and three cardinals (one being chosen by lot every three days from each order of cardinals), performs other functions of the head of state. All decisions of these commissions must be approved by the College of Cardinals.Created in 1929 to provide a territorial identity for the Holy See in Rome, the State of the Vatican City is a recognized national territory under international law. On this basis, the Holy See enters into international agreements and both receives and sends diplomatic representatives. Due to the very limited territory of the Vatican state, foreign embassies to the Holy See are located in the Italian part of Rome; Italy actually hosts its own Embassy of Italy! The Holy See is a permanent observer in the United Nations, and in July, 2004, gained all the rights of full membership except voting. According to Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See Permanent Observer, "We have no vote because this is our choice." He added that the Vatican considers that its current status "is a fundamental step that does not close any path for the future. The Holy See has the requirements defined by the UN statute to be a member state and, if in the future it wished to be so, this resolution would not impede it from requesting it."
-Administration of the Vatican City: The Pope delegates the internal administration of the Vatican City to the Pontifical Commission for the State of the Vatican City. The Vatican City maintains the Swiss Guards - a voluntary military force, as well as a modern security corps. It has its own post office, commissary (supermarket), a bank (the automatic teller machines are the only ones in the world to use Latin), railway station, electricity generating plant, and publishing house. The Vatican also issues its own coins and stamps and controls its own Internet domain (.va). Radio Vatican, the official radio station, is one of the most influential in Europe. L'Osservatore Romano is the semi-official newspaper, published daily in Italian, and weekly in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French (plus a monthly edition in Polish). It is published by Catholic laymen but carries official information.
-Administration of the Holy See: The Pope rules the Holy See through the Roman Curia and the Papal Civil Service. The Roman Curia consists of the Secretariat of State, nine Congregations, three Tribunals, 11 Pontifical Councils, and a complex of offices that administer church affairs at the highest level. The Secretariat of State, under the Cardinal Secretary of State, directs and coordinates the Curia. The current incumbent, Angelo Cardinal Sodano, is the Holy See's equivalent of a prime minister. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Secretary of the Section for Relations With States of the Secretariat of State is the Vatican's foreign minister. Sodano and Lajolo served in their respective roles under Pope John Paul II and were then reappointed to those same roles by Pope Benedict XVI.Among the most active of the major Curial institutions are the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees church doctrine; the Congregation for Bishops, which coordinates the appointment of bishops worldwide; the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which oversees all missionary activities; and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which deals with international peace and social issues.Three tribunals are responsible for judicial power. The Apostolic Penitentiary deals with matters of conscience; the Sacra Rota is responsible for appeals, including annulments of marriage; and the Apostolic Signatura is the final court of appeal.The Prefecture for Economic Affairs coordinates the finances of the Holy See departments and supervises the administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, an investment fund dating back to the Lateran Pacts. A committee of 15 cardinals, chaired by the Secretary of State, has final oversight authority over all financial matters of the Holy See, including those of the Institute for Works of Religion, the Vatican bank.