VATICAN CITY VATICAN CITY celebrated
its 36th birthday last week. The 108-acre State with the Pope as its supreme ruler, was born on February 11, 1929„ with the signing of the Lateran Pact.
Until 1870 the Popes had been the temporal rulers of what is now Central Italy. But in MO the troops of King Victor Emmanuel II stormed the walls of Rome, ending the temporal power of the Pope, and bringing into its last phase the unification of Italy.
As a result, the Popes became self-styled "prisoners of the Vatican". This continued until 1929, when the then Vatican Secretary of State. Cardinal Gasparri, and Mussolini signed the Lateran Pacts, which in effect made the little Vatican City an independent State in the middle of Rome.
The Vatican has its own coinage, diplomatic stamps and passports. There are about 1,000 citizens of the Vatican City, many of whom live in Rome. with about another 1.000 who come to work there every day but are not citizens.
Many people know about the Vatican postage system, but few, including tourists who have been to Rome, know that the Vatican strikes its own coinage. It closely resembles Italian coinage, but instead of carrying the head of a woman the coins carry the head of the current Pope and are inscribed "C'itta del Vaticano".
During the last war the Vatican remained a neutral State, with the late Pope Pius XII remaining inside the walls except when he paid a brief visit to a bombed area of Rome. The
Vatican also has its own railway station and radio system. The railway is only 800 yards long, leading from a small but modern station, through huge doors in the walls of Vatican City, to join up with the Italian railway system. It gets more use than one would suspect—almost entirely for goods. The last time there was a passenger was in 1962 when the late Pope John XXIlf used the railway to start his journey to the Italian shrines of Assisi and Loreto.
Vatican Radio is on a much larger scale and is one of the most modern in Europe. Although part of the station is in Vatican City, its main transmitters—including huge aerials in the shape of crosses—are located just outside Rome. They beam transmissions round the world, including to Iron Curtain nations, in a number of languages.
Although the Vatican security force may be one of the smallest, it is perhaps the most varied in Europe. There are the Papal Gendarmes, who deal with the day-to-day problems such as traffic and tourists; the much-photographed Swiss Guard, who are charged with the protection of the Pope; the Pontifical Guard: the Noble Guard, and the Palatine Guard—the last three strictly ceremonial.
In addition there are the Privy Chamberlains of Cape and Sword, who come from many countries, It is their privilege on visiting Rome to wear Spanish costume with white ruff and cape for honorary and temporary duty in the Pope's apartments.
The day of all these forces, which have been called "the Pope's Army", may he numbered, as there have been criticisms that they are not in keeping with the "Church of Peace".
The Swiss Guards and the Papal Ciendarmes arc the Pope's crack troops", The latter are
Italians, all taller than S ft. 9 in., and wear uniforms which are exact copies of Napoleon's Grenadiers. They are issued wirh rifles and ammunition, as are the Swiss Guards.
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They have their own room in the barracks behind the Bernini columns and their own miniature in their canteen they 1ea.00tt German Swiss years. he food and drink Italian wines. Their curfew varies between 9 o'clock in winter and 10 o'clock in summer. small cemetry has in rt earth brought from Calvary in the seventeenth century, At full strength they number 100 to 120 men. All are trained in the use of rifles and are expert in hand-tohand combat. After 12 years in the service they can become sergeants. The officers are allowed to marry, but not the non-commissioned men. This is because in the past the Italian-Swiss sons resulting from marriages to Italian women usually wanted to become Swiss Guards like their fathers, This was not possible, because Guards must he Swiss nationals at the time of their swearing in.