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Answering Your Vatican City Questions

Aug 11, 2008
For a majority of Catholics living across the world there is one destination that they would love to visit sometime in their lives. It is the Vatican City. A far off destination in Rome, Italy this country within a city is a plethora of fantastic pieces of art work spanning the centuries. It is the location of the Pope and mass is attended there by the thousands each day.

The Vatican City is fascinating and will definitely always be one of the most popular destinations but few know of its intricate history and its political structure. The smallest country in the world, the Vatican City is home to many interesting subjects.

This article will cover some of the basics of this fascinating city as well as its infrastructure. Maybe before it is all over you will find yourself booking a trip to Rome.

What is the history of the Vatican City?

The Vatican City has a long and rich history. It all started back before there was a Vatican City and the area was just a special part of Italy. It is said that the spire in the center of the circus was the site of the death of St. Peter. All around the circus are monuments to various saints and buildings that house the papal authorities.

The area dates back to 1st century AD and has since become a holy place thanks to the Catholic Church refusing to remove its presence. It remained a place of sanctuary though it was not officially recognized as its own governing body until a treaty was signed by Benito Mussolini and Pietro Cardinal Gasparri in February of 1929.

What is the political system for the Vatican City?

The political system, or Holy See, of the Vatican City is very unique in nature to today's politics. The Pope is the last absolute monarch left in the world. This is called an absolute theocratic monarchy with him at the head of the Holy See.

The political system is set up much like any other nations with a legislative, judicial and executive branch. The difference is that the Pope is the one to appoint all of the offices.

The legislative branch is in the hands of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State which is made up of cardinals. Executive power is given to the President of the Commission and the foreign relations are given to the Secretariat of State.

Who guards the Vatican City?

The Vatican City is policed by the Pontifical Swiss Guard. You may be surprised to learn that prior to January 1506 the Pope and the Holy See once used Swiss mercenaries. Today the Guard continues to oversee the policing actions of the Pope and his cabinet. They accompany him everywhere with their brightly colored uniforms.

It may be interesting to learn that only Catholic Swiss males are allowed into the Pontifical Swiss Guard. The policing force of the actual city, versus that of guarding the palace and the Pope is left in the hands of the Corpo della Gendarmeria.

How many people visit the Vatican City annually?

There are millions and millions of people that visit the Vatican City annually to partake in Mass or to visit any one of the numerous museums and buildings. More remarkable than the amount of visitors is the amount of residents that live within the Vatican City.

The population of the Vatican City is only 558. The requirements to live within the city are that you must work there or be an immediate family member of someone that works within the papal state.
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