Vatican City , officially Vatican City State (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano; Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae), is the Holy See's independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is a distinct territory under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See, itself a sovereign entity of international law, which maintains the city state's temporal, diplomatic, and spiritual independence. With an area of 49 hectares (121 acres) and a population of about 825, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.
As governed by the Holy See, the Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state (a type of theocracy) ruled by the pope who is the bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. Except the Avignon Papacy (1309-1437), the popes have generally resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.
The Vatican Secret Archives
: Archivum Secretum Vaticanum
), located in Vatican City
, is the central repository for all of the acts promulgated
by the Holy See
. The Pope
of the Roman Catholic Church
, having primal incumbency until death, owns the archives until the next appointed Papal successor. The archives
also contain the state papers
, correspondence, papal
and many other documents which the church has accumulated over the centuries. In the 17th century, under the orders of Pope Paul V
, the Secret Archives were separated from the Vatican Library
, where scholars had some very limited access to them, and remained absolutely closed to outsiders until 1881, when Pope Leo XIII
opened them to researchers, of whom now more than a thousand examine its documents each year.
The use of the word "secret" in the title "Vatican Secret Archives" does not denote the modern meaning of confidentiality. Instead, it indicates that the archives are the Pope's personal property, not belonging to those of any particular department of the Roman Curia or the Holy See. The word "secret" was generally used in this sense as also reflected in phrases such as "secret servants", "secret cupbearer", "secret carver", much like an esteemed position of honor and regard comparable to a VIP.
The Vatican post office has operated its own postal service and issued its own postage stamps since 1929.
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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.