Rome – Caput Mundi
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An aerial view of central Rome.
Rome (Italian: Roma [ˈroːma] ( listen); Latin: Roma [ˈroːma]) is the capital city of Italy and a special comune (named Comune di Roma Capitale). Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,868,782 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4.3 million residents. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City (the smallest country in the world) is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
Rome's history spans 28 centuries. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe. The city's early population originated from a mix of Latins, Etruscans, and Sabines. Eventually, the city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as the birthplace of Western civilization and by some as the first ever metropolis. It was first called The Eternal City (Latin: Urbs Aeterna; Italian: La Città Eterna) by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, and the expression was also taken up by Ovid, Virgil, and Livy. Rome is also called the "Caput Mundi" (Capital of the World). After the fall of the Western Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome slowly fell under the political control of the Papacy, which had settled in the city since the 1st century AD, until in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. Beginning with the Renaissance, almost all the popes since Nicholas V (1447–1455) pursued over four hundred years a coherent architectural and urban programme aimed at making the city the artistic and cultural centre of the world. In this way, Rome became first one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, and then the birthplace of both the Baroque style and Neoclassicism. Famous artists, painters, sculptors and architects made Rome the centre of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city. In 1871, Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, which, in 1946, became the Italian Republic.
The Venerable Pope Pius XII (Latin: Pius PP. XII; Italian: Pio XII), born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (2 March 1876 – 9 October 1958), reigned as the 260th Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958.
Before election to the papacy, Pacelli served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which capacity he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin American nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Germany. His leadership of the Catholic Church during World War II remains the subject of continued historical controversy.
After the war, Pius XII contributed to the rebuilding of Europe, and advocated peace and reconciliation, including lenient policies toward vanquished nations and the unification of Europe. The Church, flourishing in the West, experienced severe persecution and mass deportations of Catholic clergy in the East. In light of his protests, and his involvement in the Italian elections of 1948, he became known as a staunch opponent of communism. He signed 30 concordats and diplomatic treaties.
Pius XII explicitly invoked ex cathedra papal infallibility with the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in his 1950 Apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus. His magisterium includes almost 1,000 addresses and radio broadcasts. His forty-one encyclicals include Mystici Corporis, the Church as the Body of Christ; Mediator Dei on liturgy reform; Humani Generis on the Church's position on theology and evolution. He eliminated the Italian majority in the College of Cardinals in 1946.
Did you know
Did you know that in AD 64 Rome was struck by a destructive fire called, the Great Fire of Rome?
According to the historian Tacitus, the fire started on the night of 18 July, among the shops clustered around the Circus Maximus. As many Romans lived in wood houses without masonry, the fire spread quickly through these areas. The fire was almost contained after five days before regaining strength. The historian Suetonius claims the fire burned for six days and seven nights in total. The fire destroyed three of fourteen Roman districts and severely damaged seven, while leaving only four undamaged. Also destroyed were Nero's palace, the Temple of Jupiter Stator and the hearth in the Temple of Vesta.
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