Vatican City History
Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the Bishop of Rome - the Pope.
Vatican City is a city-state that came into existence in 1929. It is distinct from the Holy See, which dates back to early Christianity and is the main episcopal see of 1.142 billion Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic adherents from around the globe.
Ordinances of Vatican City are published in Italian; official documents of the Holy See are issued mainly in Latin. The two entities even have distinct passports: the Holy See, not being a country, only issues diplomatic and service passports; the state of Vatican City issues normal passports. In both cases the passports issued are very few.
The Pope is ex officio head of state and head of government of Vatican City , functions dependent on his primordial function as bishop of the diocese of Rome . The term Holy See refers not to the Vatican state but to the Pope's spiritual and pastoral governance, largely exercised through the Roman Curia. His official title with regard to Vatican City is Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City.
His principal subordinate government official for Vatican City is the President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State , who since 1952 exercises the functions previously belonging to the Governor of Vatican City . Since 2001, the President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State also has the title of President of the Governorate of the State of Vatican City.
The Pope resides in the Papal Apartments of the Papal Palace just off Saint Peter's Square. It is here he carries out his business and meets foreign representatives.
The current Pope is Benedict XVI, born Joseph Alois Ratzinger in Bavaria, Germany. Italian Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo serves as President of the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on 11 September 2006.
The politics of Vatican City takes place in an absolute elective monarchy, in which the head of the Roman Catholic Church takes power. The Pope exercises principal legislative, executive, and judicial power over the State of Vatican City (an entity distinct from the Holy See), which is a rare case of a non-hereditary monarchy.
Vatican City is currently one of the few countries that has not become a member of the United Nations.
The government of Vatican City has a unique structure. The Pope is the sovereign of the state. Legislative authority is vested in the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, a body of cardinals appointed by the Pope for five-year periods. Executive power is in the hands of the President of that commission, assisted by the General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary. The state's foreign relations are entrusted to the Holy See's Secretariat of State and diplomatic service. Nevertheless, the pope has full and absolute executive, legislative and judicial power over Vatican City . He is currently the only absolute monarch in Europe.
Vatican City State is a recognized national territory under international law, but it is the Holy See that conducts diplomatic relations on its behalf, in addition to the Holy See's own diplomacy, entering into international agreements in its regard. The Vatican City State thus has no diplomatic service of its own. Because of space limitations, Vatican City is one of the few countries in the world that is unable to host embassies.
Vatican City contains a number of items of historic interest. Buildings such as Saint Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are home to some of the most famous art in the world, which includes works by artists such as Botticelli, Bernini, Raphael and Michelangelo. The Vatican Library and the collections of the Vatican was added by UNESCO to the List of World Heritage Sites.