The Vatican is a nation

The Vatican - State of Priests

Although the dwarf state is only 44 hectares in size, it exercises great political influence in the world through its head, the Pope.

In 1929 the Vatican State became an independent national territory on the Roman Monte Vaticano. The Vatican has its own citizenship, its own bank, it mints coins and issues postage stamps, and its cars have Vatican license plates.

The Papal State: papal residence

Center of the Catholic Church, one of the oldest institutions in the world. "You are Peter, on this rock I want to build my church". Engraved in the huge dome of St. Peter's Basilica, this word of Jesus has become a stone monument in the Vatican.

In the sign of the cross, the Pope, as Peter’s deputy, claims to represent the 2000 year old Catholic Church. But the Pope is not only the spiritual leader, he is also the secular ruler of the Vatican.

As early as the 8th century, the popes established their own state, the so-called Papal State, which extended over all of central Italy. The popes of the Middle Ages and early modern times were power-conscious rulers. From the Papal States they intervened in world affairs, crowned emperors and sent troops.

When the papacy came under the complete dependence of the French crown in 1309, the exile of the popes in Avignon began: the popes resided in France for almost 70 years.

In 1377 the Bishop of Rome returned to the Eternal City. Only now was a representative residence of the Popes built on the Roman Vatican Hill. The Vatican became the center of the Catholic Church and replaced the centuries-old seat of the Popes in the Lateran Palace.

The "Roman Question"

In 1870, as part of the national unification of Italy, King Vittorio Emanuele had the Pope's land occupied by Italian troops. In one fell swoop, the Pope lost all worldly power, his troops and his territories. The papal state was forcibly incorporated into the new country of Italy.

The impotent Pope Pius IX stylized himself beside himself with indignation. to the "Prisoner of the Vatican", an area around St. Peter's Church, a tiny 44 hectares in size and located in the middle of the Roman city area.

For 60 years the so-called "Roman Question" remained without a final settlement. It was not until 1929 that the state of the Vatican City was created with the so-called Lateran Treaties. It stipulated that the secular territory of the Roman Church would henceforth be limited to the Vatican City.

It was the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini who, by signing the treaty, gave the popes back the sovereignty they had lost since the collapse of the papal state in 1870. The Vatican was recognized as the successor to the Papal State and received the legal status of an independent nation.

On behalf of Pope Pius XI. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri sealed the Lateran Treaties, in which the Curia should regain its financial independence. Fascist Italy paid 1.75 billion lire to the Vatican as compensation for the church property confiscated in 1870.

According to the Lateran Treaty, the actual territory of the Vatican City only extends over the area bounded by a wall. The Vatican includes St. Peter's Basilica, St. Peter's Square and the palaces and gardens within the Vatican walls.

But the Vatican still has a number of extraterritorial possessions in Rome, such as the summer residence of Pope Castel Gandolfo and the papal Gregorian University, as well as various churches, basilicas, apartments and other real estate.

The Pope as a monarch

The Vatican State is an absolute (electoral) monarchy. The Vatican is ruled by a "priest-king" elected by the college of cardinals, the Pope. The Pope unites the three powers of the state in one hand: He is ruler of the legislature (legislation), the executive (executive power) and the judiciary (jurisdiction).

Today the Pope is the last absolute ruler of Europe, sovereign ruler of a sovereign state. Once elected, he is head of the Vatican and the Catholic Church for as long as he himself approves. Nobody can force the Pope to abdicate.