10 Interesting facts about the Vatican: did you know?

The symbol of the Vatican is everywhere in Rome

One interesting fact about the Vatican symbol, the keys of st. Peter It's not a surprise that the symbol of the Vatican state, an interesting coat of arms representing the keys given by Jesus to saint Peter and the papal hat ("tiara"), can be seen in many places in the Vatican. What's more a surprise, is the fact that the same symbol appears everywhere also in the city of Rome. And by everywhere... I mean everywhere. -sul fatto che sta ovunque a roma-

Carved in marble, in wood, painted, embedde on palace facades, in fountains, at the base of statues: it's not just present in the many churches of the capital of Italy, the Vatican symbol is spread everywhere in Rome, and this tells a lot about the power and the influence that the Vatican has on Rome, despite being, in "theory", a separated and independent state. -sui dettagli di cosa sono le chiavi, il cappello...-


Conclave: black smoke, white smoke, yellow smoke

Few events in the entire world generate as much suspence and drama as the conclave (from latin cum clave = with key), as the cardinals in the Vatican isolate themselves even for days in a locked room, to choose the new pope. Before the conclave starts the Sistine chapel, where voting takes place, is inspected for spy cameras and microphones: everything that could be used to communicate with the outer world during the conclave is removed.

In the Sistine chapel itself a stove is mounted, which will be used at the end of each voting session to communicate to the world if the cardinals have agreed on the new pope to elect (white smoke) or not (black smoke), in the second case the conclave continues. The different color of the smoke is obtained by adding specific chemicals to the fire: potassium perchlorate, anthracene and sulfur for white smoke; potassium chlorate, lactose and rosin for black smoke. There's also a third smoke: the yellow smoke, that doesn't have any particular meaning, it's produced at the beginning of the conclave to test the stove.


Mary, a teenage mother in the Vatican

One of the most famous masterpieces of art that the West has ever produced, the Pietà, is housed in st. Peter's basilica in the Vatican. It's a marble sculpture that depicts a dying Jesus after the crucifixion, on the lap of his mother Mary, created by Michelangelo Buonarroti in the Renaissance. The artist was only 22 years old when he scuplted it. The statue has an amazing level of detail, and the compassion ("pietà" in Italian) on Mary's face for her son shows. But do you notice something else about her face?

Michelangelo sculpted Mary as a very young woman, excessively young for being the mother of a 33 years old, the age Jesus had when he died according to the tradition. Mary looks like a teenager, and that originated some criticism at the time. Michelangelo defended his creation saying that "chastity, sanctity and incorruption preserve youth". He was also very interested in the symbolic aspect of the scene: he represented Mary as young as she was when she gave birth to Jesus.


Aerial escapeway for the popes

Spirituality and intrigues, faith and politics: they've always walked hand in hand under the shade of the big cupola of the Vatican. Cases of extreme danger for the pope -like sieges or riots- were not rare in the turbulent Rome of the middle ages. Passetto di borgo was built in 1277 to provide him a strategic escapeway, in those cases. It's an elevated corridor that connected (and still connects today) the Vatican palace of the popes with their fortress in Castel Sant'Angelo.

Among the first popes to rapidly cross the Passetto, to find protection inside the fortress, was one of the most controversial popes of history: Alexander VI, known for his libertine conduct and for fathering several illegitimate children. In 1494 he was forced to run away by the french army of Charles VIII, that invaded Rome. The most famous escape however is that of pope Clement VII in 1527, who escaped during the Sack of Rome, when the troups of Charles massacred almost the entire swiss guard on the steps of Saint Peter's basilica.


Qualcosa sulle guardie svizzere

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The smallest and most powerful state in the world

Unique case of a state embedded inside of a city (Rome), the Vatican holds the record of being the smallest state in the world, both for area and population. and the most powerful in many ways. The head of the Vatican is the pope, figure of reference for 1.2 billion Catholics. other data other data other data other data other data other data other data other data other data other data other data other data other data

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The apostolic library VS the secret archives

The Holy See organized and cured inside the Vatican city the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, that is available to researchers. The library was founded by pope Sisto IV and has one of the most important collections of rare and antique books in the world, including the Codex Vaticanus. Today it contains approx. 1.600.000 books and approx 500.000 funds among incunaboli, manuscripts, coins and art objects.

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Qualcosa sulla cappella sistiella

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061 Notes: framework created

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