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 a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled 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..

Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the Bishop of Rome—the Pope. This makes the Vatican the only remaining absolute monarchy in Europe. The highest state functionaries are all clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope's residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace.

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 it 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. 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.

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Papal Swiss Guards in uniform
Swiss Guards or Schweizergarde are the Swiss soldiers who have served as bodyguards, ceremonial guards, and palace guards at foreign European courts since the late 15th century. Apart from household and guard units, regular Swiss mercenary regiments have served as line troops in various armies; notably those of France, Spain and Naples up to the 19th century. In contemporary usage, the name Swiss Guards generally refers to the Pontifical Swiss Guard of Vatican City.

Various units of Swiss Guards existed for hundreds of years. The earliest such unit was the Swiss Hundred Guard (Cent Suisses) at the French court (1497 – 1830). This small force was complemented in 1567 by a Swiss Guards regiment. The Papal Swiss Guard, (now located in the Vatican City State), was founded in 1506 and is the only Swiss Guard that still exists. In the 18th and early 19th centuries several other Swiss Guards existed for periods in various European courts.

The use of Swiss soldiers as Royal guards and as the Pontifical guard stems from the reputation of Swiss mercenaries at the time of their formation. Since Switzerland was a poor country, young men often sought their fortunes abroad. Having a reputation for discipline and loyalty, and employing revolutionary battle tactics, they were considered the most powerful troops of the 15th century, until their methods were refined by the Landsknechte in the early 16th century.

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Credit: Chris Greenberg

Popemobile (Italian: Papamobile) is an informal name for the specially designed motor vehicles used by the pope during outdoor public appearances without having to employ the antiquated and often impractical sedia gestatoria.

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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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