Rome – Vatican City St Peters Papal Blessings

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The Vatican City & The Holy See are separate legal entities.

The State of the Vatican City (Stato della Città del Vaticano) is an independent sovereign state within the city of Rome. Its independent status (granted by Rome’s Government in 1929) is physically recognizable by the wall that surrounds the enclave. It size is about one fifth on a square mile or about 110 acres in which less than a thousand people live. Statistically it is the smallest sovereign state in the world in size and population.

The Head of State is the Bishop of Rome more commonly referred to as the Pope. He appoints Cardinals to serve on the state’s legislative authority the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State. The Commission serves a five year term and elects its own President who is supported by a General Secretary and his deputy. Deputy General Secretary. Despite it small size it has its own diplomatic service which has an ‘observer’ at the United Nations. It’s army is the Swiss Guard. The enclave also includes a Television station radio statIon, helicopter port and post office. It also issues it own passports. It has a special treaty with the European Union which allows to use the € as its of currency but the treaty bars it from issuing it own euro notes. It is allowed to issue a limited number of euro coins.

It is economy is dependant on the charitable donations of Catholics the world over. These donations which began in England are sometimes refereed to as ‘Peter’s Pence. Other income comes from the sale of religious books, stamps, museum admission fees and souvenirs.


Dress Code For The St Peters Basilica Vatican City

There is a strict dress code for people going into St. Peter’s Basilica. Shorts, skirts above the knee and bare shoulders are not permitted. Anyone dressed inappropriately will be refused admission. In some instances and when available the guards may offer you a blue full length cape – similar to patients hospital wear.


The Basilica of Saint Peter

The Basilica of Saint Peter (Basilica did San Pietro in Vaticano) above is often referred to as St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s international status as the greatest Catholic church is undeniable. It is a landmark visible throughout Rome. According to Catholic tradition it is the burial site of the Apostle St Peter who’s tomb underneath its altar. It has also been the burial place of numerous Popes. However the Basilica of St John Lateran has the faith’s highest status in church terms as it is officially the Pope’s cathedral. There have several churches on this site since the 4th century AD. The Basilica of Saint Peter was consummated in 1626 – 120 years after its construction began. For many its history and association with papacy mean that its a place of pilgrimage. For others it’s attraction is the work of Michelangelo who designed it’s dome.

Now days it is often the place where chosen by Popes to address international audiences. Location St Peters Square Vatican City Rome.

Saint Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) is directly outside St. Peter’s Basilica. The space in the foreground was redesigned over an 11 year period starting in 1656 by the architect Bernini who was commissioned Pope Alexander V11. The commission centered around enabling the Pope to bless those in St Peters Square from the front of the church or a window in the Vatican Palace which was situated to its right on when approaching the main entrance. Bernini also had to accommodate an existing obelisk and formalize the somewhat chaotic appearance of the square. He achieved this using colonnades and paving stones that radiated out from the centre of the square.

Papal Blessings In Saint Peters Square On Sundays at midday from a window in the Vatican Palace, the pope usually addresses and blesses pilgrims and visitors below in St. Peter’s Square. In the summer, from around the middle of July to the middle of September, the blessing is given from his summer residence at Castelgandolfo, 26km (15 miles) from Rome – accessible by Metro and bus.

Vatican Tourist Office (Left hand side of Saint Peter’s Square as you face St Peters Tel. 06 69881662), Opens Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 6:30pm. Useful resource that has maps and guides you purchase if you are planning to visit the museums in the Vatican. Also takes bookings for tours of the Vatican Gardens (see below).

Vatican Gardens The Vatican Gardens date back to the 13th century when Nicholas III planted an orchard (pomerium), a lawn (pratellum) and a garden (viridarium) – the first garden of the Vatican. Today it is impossible to miss the perfume of the imposing the camphor tree (Cinnamomum glanduliferum Meissn.) as you enter the spacious French Garden. Its red rock paths are martialed with ancient terracotta pots bearing the papal coat of arms and filled with stunning azaleas. Nearby are some rarely

found trees including two ‘Dawn Redwoods’ and an olive tree. Many of these trees have been donated by diplomatic visitors. .


Papal Audiences At St Peters Rome

On Wednesdays, usually at 10am, if he is in Rome beginning the Pope gives public audiences. The audience with the Pope normally takes place in the Paul VI Hall of Audiences. These audiences are open to anyone provided they obtain a free ticket in advance. These tickets can be obtained from

The Papal Household, access via the Bronze Door in St. Peter’s Square by the Bronze Door, The door is at the beginning of the right hand colonnade on the right when you face the basilica. The office opens from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 1pm, but tickets may not always be available on Wednesdays. On rare occasions if there is space available you may be allowed into the audience without a ticket.

Alternatively you may obtain tickets in advance of your visit by writing to the ‘Prefecture of the Papal Household, 00120 Città del Vaticano Rome (Telephone. 06 69883114). In your letter give the dates of your visit, the number of people with you and your preferred language. Also include the details of your hotel where possible as the tickets are normally sent there the day before your visit.

American Catholics are asked to apply to the North American College, Via dell’Umiltà 30, 00187 Roma (Telephone.06 690011) – and include a introductory letter from their Priest.


Official Vatican Tourist Board Office



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