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Vatican View: Facts

Return to Vatican View | Vatican View: Q & A

Papal Insignia

Facts: Papacy, Vatican, Rome & More...

Sources: Various  

Important Notice: Information herein is not comprehensive and may include details that are unverifiable/debatable, approximations, etc. All applicable items are subject to change. We make no guarantees regarding any item herein. By using this site you agree to all terms. For more terms information, click here


Click link below or scroll down to view all:

Address of the Pope

Antipopes

Apostolic Letter - see "Papal Writings"

Avignon Papacy

Brief - see "Papal Writings"

Camerlengo

Canonized (& Blessed) Popes / Feast Days

Cardinals

The Chair of Peter

Churches in Rome

Conclave 

Constitution - see "Papal Writings"

Decretal - see "Papal Writings"

Deposed / Abdicated / Overthrown Popes

Dicastery

Election of a Pope

Encyclical - see "Papal Writings"

"The Great" Popes

Holy See

Important Dates in Papal History

Lenten Station Churches (Rome)

Magisterium 

Main Catacombs

Major Penitentiary

Majordomo

Motu Proprio - see "Papal Writings"

Ordinary Magisterium - see "Magisterium"

Papacy

Papal Blessings

Papal Bull - see "Papal Writings"

Papal Documents ("Classic Encyclicals")

Papal Duties 

Papal Infallibility

Papal Legates

Papal Rescript - see "Papal Writings"

Papal States

Papal Titles

Papal Writings

Patriarchal Basilicas

Pontificate 

The Pope

The Popes: St. Peter to Present

Popes' Previous Names

Primacy / Supremacy

Roman Artwork

Roman Curia

Roman Proverbs

Roman Rota

Roman Tribunals

Rome: Airports

Rome: Patron Saints

Rome: Seven Hills

Rome: Temperature / Rainfall / Sunshine

Rome: Time

Rome: Travel Info.

Rome: Misc.

Rome's Churches & Catacombs

Santa Scala

Seven Churches of Rome

St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano)

St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore)

St. Paul Outside-the-Walls (S. Paolo Fuori le Mura)

St. Peter 

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)

St. Susanna (Santa Susanna)

Swiss Guards

Tour of the Seven Churches

Universal Magisterium - see "Magisterium"

Vacant Seat / Sedevacantist

The Vatican - see "Vatican City"

Vatican Address / Website

Vatican City (Citta del Vaticano)

The Vatican Flag

Vatican Library / Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

Vatican Museums

Vatican Publications

Vatican Radio

Vicar of Christ

Misc.

Also See: Vatican View Reflections | Vatican View: Q & A | Pope (Topical Scripture)

Item

Fact(s)

Address of the Pope

According a diocesan source, one may write to the Pope at the following address:

His Holiness Pope (N.*)

Apostolic Palace

00120 Vatican City State, Europe

* Replace N. with name of Pope (including Roman numerals, if any)

[The salutation inside the letter should read "His Holiness" (no "Dear", and no other title or name)]

Note: Mailing address may be subject to change. For current mailing address, e-mail address, etc., try the Vatican website (see Catholic Web Links Section). To report an address correction, click here.

Antipopes

Definition of Antipope: "One claiming to be pope in opposition to a true pope canonically elected." (Catholic Dictionary)

For a list of antipopes, click here

Avignon Papacy

The Avignon Papacy refers to the period of time in the 14th century (1309-1377) where the papacy was moved from Rome to Avignon France. Pope Clement V moved the papacy under imperial pressure, beginning the seventy year 'Babylonian Captivity' (referring to Israel's exile) which lasted until the papacy was returned to Rome by Pope Gregory XI on January 17, 1377. There were a total of 7 Popes during this period: Pope Clement V, Pope John XXII (XXI), Pope Benedict XII, Pope Clement VI, Pope Innocent VI, Pope Bl. Urban V, and Pope Gregory XI.

Camerlengo 

The Camerlengo is the chamberlain of the Church. He is considered the "most important official" of the Church during an interregnum (period of time between death of a pope and election of another pope). Upon the death of a pope, he administers Church properties, heads congregations, and makes preparations for the conclave. He also certifies the death of a pope and destroys the pope's ring (used for sealing documents - the destruction of which protects against fraudulent documents and "symbolically extinguishes the pope's power").

Canonized (& Blessed) Popes / Feast Days

For list of canonized / beatified popes (A-Z), click here

For feast days for canonized / beatified popes (Jan.-Dec.), click here

Cardinals 

Definition: "A member of the Sacred College of Cardinals, the counsellors and assistants of the pope in the government of the Church". (Catholic Dictionary) Cardinals are "permanent advisors and holders of the exclusive right to elect the pope". They serve on various Roman Congregations and wear a red hat. After the death of a Pope, they conduct Masses for the deceased pope, assist in governing the Church, and elect a new Pope in a conclave. There are three ranks of Cardinals: Cardinal-bishop, Cardinal-priest, and Cardinal-deacon. The rank of Cardinal is said to date back to the early 4th century. Note: Click here  for 'Reflections' related to this topic.

The Chair of Peter

The "Chair of Peter" may refer to the office of the papacy (click here), or to the Pope's infallibility - e.g. speaking "ex cathedra" (click here), or to the actual chair (Latin: cathedra) believed to have been used by St. Peter. 

Churches in Rome

It has been said that "there are more churches in Rome than days of the year". For a list of some of Rome's churches & catacombs, click here. Note: Also see other listings herein (e.g. St. Peter's Basilica, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, etc.)

Conclave 

Definition: "Conclave (Lat. cum clave, with a key). The assembly of cardinals for the election of a pope; also the place where the assembly meets." (Catholic Dictionary) A conclave is a secret proceeding which begins 15-20 days after the death of a pope. The balloting takes place in the Sistine Chapel and continues until a new pope is elected. The Cardinal Electors are sequestered from contact with the outside world, and are literally locked within the walls during the process of electing a pope (thus derives the name "conclave"). A 2/3 majority vote is generally required to elect a pope. Once a new pope is chosen and he accepts, he becomes pope immediately (if he is not a bishop, however, he must be ordained a bishop). To signal the results of elections, ballots are burned in a stove which produces smoke visible from outside. White smoke signals the election of a new pope, whereas black smoke signals that a new pope has not been elected. Note: Click here for 'Reflections' related to this topic.

Also See: Election of a Pope | Death of a Pope / Election of a Pope (Q & A) | Election of a Pope (Reflections)

Deposed / Abdicated / Overthrown Popes

For information concerning popes who abdicated or were deposed / overthrown, click here

Dicastery 

Definition: "An office or collection of departments such as that of the congregations, etc. forming the Roman Curia, sometimes called the Pontifical Dicastery" (Catholic Dictionary) The dicasteries, headed by a Cardinal, support the Roman Pontiff.

Election of a Pope 

After the death of a pope, the Church enters a period called sede vacante (Latin for "vacant see") or papal interregnum (derived from Latin, meaning "period between the reign of popes"). During an interregnum, the Church is governed by the College of Cardinals [although their powers are limited and certain items limited to the Pope must wait (e.g. appointment of bishops, convening synods of bishops, canonizing saints, etc.)]. There is a period of mourning, Masses are said for the deceased pope, and the deceased pope is buried. Within the prescribed number of days, the Cardinal Electors meet in a conclave (see above) and elect a new pope. ("Theoretically, any baptized layman in good standing who is not a heretic or schismatic may be elected pope, but the man chosen will most likely be a Cardinal Elector.") Hundreds of years ago, the clergy and people of Rome helped choose the pope, but this method sometimes led to serious disagreements and even fights. Eventually, the orderly process of a conclave was adopted and popes have since been chosen by Cardinal Electors. In recent years, the election process has usually been relatively rapid. However, in the past, some interregnums have been quite lengthy (one in the 13th century lasted nearly three years) as a result of wars, rivalries, civil disturbances, or even the Cardinals themselves (who were said to enjoy the power and financial rewards of running the Church). When the Cardinals elect a pope in a conclave, he is asked if he accepts. If so, he becomes pope immediately (if he is not a bishop, he must be ordained a bishop immediately). Shortly afterwards, the great joy of a new pope is announced (in Latin) from the central balcony of St. Peter's: "I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope! (Habemus papam!)", Then the pope's baptismal name and chosen papal name are given. Soon after, pope gives his Urbis et Orbi ["to the city (Rome) and to the world"] blessing, his first blessing as pope. 

Also See: Conclave | Death of a Pope / Election of a Pope (Q & A) | Election of a Pope (Reflections)

"The Great" Popes

For more information regarding "the Great" popes [St. Leo I, St. Gregory I, St. Nicholas I (often Called 'the Great')], click here

Holy See 

The term "Holy See" (Sancta Sedes in Latin, "Holy Seat") refers to the episcopal see of Rome. It may also refer to the Pope and the Roman Curia, the Church's central administration / government. The Holy See administers the independent Vatican City State (click here). The Holy See may also be called "the Apostolic See" (although this title may also refer to other sees founded by an Apostle).

Also See: Vatican View: Q & A

Important Dates in Papal History

Some important dates in papal history include:

  

Date

Event

c. 33 

Institution of Papacy by Christ with St. Peter as first pope

c. 34-37

Martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome

312

Constantine wins battle of the Milvian Bridge

313

Edict of Milan issued, "legalizing" Christianity in the Roman Empire

320

Building of first St. Peter's Basilica

325

First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea

800

Charlemagne crowned emperor at St. Peter's

1309 

Papacy moved to Avignon (France)

1377 

Papacy returned to Rome

1870

Confiscation of the Papal States

1870

Proclamation of Papal Infallibility

1929 

Lateran Treaty signed (creating separate Vatican City State)

Note: Not comprehensive.

For other events in papal history, try here.

Also See: The Papacy in History (Q & A)

Lenten Station Churches (Rome)

For information concerning Lenten station churches, click here

Magisterium

Deriving from the Latin "magister" (master), "Magisterium" refers to the Church's teaching authority which was granted by Christ. As defined:

"The Church's divinely appointed authority to teach the truths of religion, 'Going therefore, teach ye all nations...teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you' (Matt. xxviii, 19-20). This teaching is infallible: 'And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world' (ibid.). The solemn magisterium is that which is exercised only rarely by formal and authentic definitions of councils or popes. Its matter comprises dogmatic definitions of oecumenical councils or of the popes teaching ex cathedra, or of particular councils, if their decrees are universally accepted or approved in solemn form by the pope; also creeds and professions of faith put forward or solemnly approved by pope or oecumenical council. The ordinary magisterium is continually exercised by the Church especially in her universal practices connected with faith and morals, in the unanimous consent of the Fathers and theologians, in the decisions of Roman Congregations concerning faith and morals, in the common sense of the faithful, and various historical documents in which the faith is declared. All these are founts of a teaching which as a whole is infallible. They have to be studied separately to determine how far and in what conditions each of them is an infallible source of truth." (Catholic Dictionary)

Since St. Peter has been given jurisdiction over the Church, including the fellow apostles, the Papal Magisterium is called a "Universal Magisterium". The entire body of bishops may also claim an Universal Magisterium, but only in union with the Pope.

Note: The term "perennial magisterium" may refer to the changeless / perpetual teachings of the Church (although the composition of the Magisterium has changed as persons depart, the teachings themselves remain changeless / perpetual).

Main Catacombs

Main Catacombs of Rome Include:

S. Agnese

S. Callisto

Domitilla

S. Pietro e Marcellino

Priscilla

S. Sebastiano

Note: For a listing of some of Rome's churches & catacombs, click here

Major Penitentiary

The Major Penitentiary is the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary (the tribunal dealing with questions of conscience, absolution, dispensations, indulgences, etc.). He is "one of only two department heads who retain their office upon the death of a pope" (along with the Camerlengo).

Majordomo

"The official who formerly was head of the papal household in the Vatican. The office was abolished in 1929." (Catholic Dictionary)

Papacy

The papacy refers to the office of the pope (e.g. "he was elected to the papacy") or to the reign of a pope (e.g. "his papacy lasted 15 years"). Note: Also see pontificate (click here).

Also See: Vatican View: Q & A

Papal Blessings  

Papal blessings are "a privilege certifying that the Holy Father has bestowed his apostolic blessing". They may be obtained to commemorate ordinations, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. To obtain a papal blessing, contact your parish, diocese, or applicable church or shop in Rome. There may be various requirements (e.g. administration fee, official letter attesting to the occasion, etc.) and, it should be noted, the process may take some time.

Papal Documents ("Classic Encyclicals")

For "Classic Encyclicals & Other Papal Documents", click here

 

Papal Duties 

The Pope, as the Supreme Pastor, visible head of the Church on earth, and the vicar of Christ, rules and governs both the faithful and their pastors. He pronounces on matters of faith and morals, legislates for the Church, creates/modifies dioceses, confirms the election of bishops, canonizes saints, absolves from certain sins, administers Church property, renders judicial decisions, and conducts other important Church matters. He may delegate some of his responsibilities to others, but his infallibility is not transferable. Note: For "Papal Duties / Concerns" Reflections, click here.

Papal Infallibility

For information concerning infallibility, click here

Papal Legates 

A legate is an "ecclesiastic representing the Holy See and having a varying degree of its authority." Note: For "Papal Legates" reflections, click here.

Papal States 

The Papal States (also called the "Patrimony of St. Peter) refer to lands ruled by the popes for more than a thousand years before they were seized. The donated or acquired lands were ruled by popes until they were ultimately seized by the Italian forces in 1870. As a result of the forcible seizure, the reigning pope, Bl. Pope Pius IX, began a self-imposed imprisonment in the Vatican which continued throughout the rest of his long pontificate and until the pontificate of Pope Pius XI. On February 11, 1929, the "Roman Question" was settled when Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran treaty which established Vatican City as an independent state (and gave extraterrestrial status to other Church properties), and provided for remuneration for the confiscated lands. 

Papal Titles

The Pope (Papa) may be called by various titles, including: 

* Bishop of Rome

* Roman Pontiff

* Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church

* Successor of the Prince of Apostles

* Vicar of Jesus Christ / Vicar of Christ

* Primate of Italy

* Patriarch of the West

* Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province

* Sovereign of the State of Vatican City

* Father and Patriarch of the whole world

* Sovereign Pontiff

* Servant of the servants of God

* Prince of Shepherds

* Supreme Pontiff / Pontifex Maximus (P.M.)

* Highest Pontiff

* Most Holy Father / Holy Father

* Most Blessed Father

* His Holiness

* Your Holiness

He has also been called the "Living Voice of Christ".

"[The pope's full designation is:] Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and Sovereign of the State of the City of the Vatican" (Catholic Dictionary)

Papal Writings

Papal writings come in a variety of types: Encyclicals, Papal Bulls, Apostolic Letters, etc. The following are some definitions:

"APOSTOLIC LETTERS. One of the divisions of writings emanating from the Curia Romana. An apostolic letter may be simplex (i.e. one drawn up in the pope's name), a chirographum (signed by the pope), and encyclical, or a motu proprio" (Catholic Dictionary)

"BRIEF. A papal letter, signed by the secretary for briefs and stamped with an impression of the pope's ring; it is a less formal and weighty document than a bull" (Catholic Dictionary)

"BULL, PAPAL. The most solemn and weighty form of papal letter, beginning '[Name], servant of the servants of God' and formerly always sealed with a lead seal [from the Latin bulla]" (Catholic Dictionary)

"CONSTITUTIONS. i. Papal. In the strict sense, those communications of general authority and applicability which the pope issues in his own name. In the wide sense, it includes also decrees of the Roman Congregations." (Catholic Dictionary)

"DECRETALS. Decisions of the popes given in various forms on matters of discipline, i.e. canon law, but not always binding on the whole Church. The earliest decretals (more often called constitutions) were letters to bishops in reply to questions or reports, which had the force of law, so that all bishops of the Western church had to have collections of them." (Catholic Dictionary)

"ENCYCLICAL. An encyclical letter is one addressed by the pope to the patriarchs, primates, archbishops, bishops and other ordinaries of the whole Church, or less often, to the hierarchy of a particular country... Of late years the Roman pontiffs have more and more expressed their minds in this form of utterance... Encyclicals are not necessarily infallible documents, though the pope could choose to speak ex cathedra by means of them if he wished to do so: but if they contain doctrinal teaching Catholics are bound to give to them interior as well as exterior assent and obedience." (Catholic Dictionary)

"MOTU PROPRIO (Lat., of his own accord). A rescript drawn up and issued by the pope on his own initiative, without the advice of others, and personally signed by him." (Catholic Dictionary)

"RESCRIPT, PAPAL. The reply of the Holy See or a Roman congregation to a question or request submitted to them. A rescript usually only affects the person to whom it is addressed, but sometimes has the force of a general law. Papal dispensations are granted by rescript." (Catholic Dictionary)

Note that papal teachings may also take other forms (e.g. Exhortations, Discourses, Audiences, Messages, etc.). Papal writings may be ranked according to type (e.g. a Papal Bull is higher than a Papal Brief).

Also See: Classic Encyclicals

Patriarchal Basilicas

"The four greater or patriarchal basilicas at Rome" (alphabetical order):

S. Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran)

S. Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major)

S. Paolo Fuori le Mura (St. Paul's Outside the Walls)

S. Pietro (St. Peter's)

Pontificate

The term 'pontificate' may refer either to the office of the Supreme Pontiff or to his term of office. It may be used synonymously with 'papacy' Note: Also see papacy (click here)

Also See: Vatican View: Q & A

The Pope

"The pope, as bishop of Rome, is the successor of St. Peter, and therefore the visible head of the Church on earth, the vicegerent of Christ, and the supreme ruler of all Christians. Christ commanded Peter to 'feed my lambs, feed my sheep' (John xxi, 16, 17), which meant that he was to rule and govern the faithful and their pastors. He is therefore the supreme judge in all matters of faith and morals, in pronouncing upon which he may exercise infallibility. He also exercises supreme jurisdiction and may legislate for the whole Church and dispense from canonical law. He alone can erect, suppress, or otherwise modify dioceses and mission territories; confirm the election of bishops or translate or depose them; and fully approve new religious institutes. He reserves to himself the beatification and canonization of saints and the absolution of certain sins, and judges appeals from all lower authorities. But he cannot alter the faith once delivered to the saints or suppress or modify any essential rites or dispense from the divine law. Much of the papal power may be and is delegated, e.g., to the Roman congregations, delegates apostolic, and others." (Catholic Dictionary)

The pope is Christ's Vicar, the earthly leader of the Catholic Church, and the successor of St. Peter. He also has jurisdiction over the Vatican City State and the Holy See. He is the Bishop of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. His office is called the pontificate (or papacy). As possessor of the keys to the kingdom of heaven and gifted with infallibility, the pope keeps the doctrine of the faith pure and acts as a center of unity in the Church. His office is a royal one, as represented by the triple tiara commonly worn by the popes. The pope also has his own Papal Coat of Arms and military force (the Swiss Guards). The pope presently resides in the Vatican palace and his official seat is the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

Note: The term 'pope' is derived from the Greek 'papa', or father. The term originally enjoyed a broader use (e.g. it was applied to bishops and priests), but after a few centuries, it was used exclusively to denote the Bishop of Rome.

Also See: Vatican View: Q & A

The Popes: St. Peter to Present

For information regarding the popes from St. Peter to present, click here

Popes' Previous Names

For information regarding the popes' previous names (that is, their names before being elevated to the papacy), click here

Primacy / Supremacy 

The Pope has the highest authority in the Church, and his supreme position is not shared by any other member of the Church. For more information on papal primacy / supremacy, click here (Papal Primacy / Supremacy Reflections) & visit the Vatican View: Q & A (click here).

Roman Artwork

Thanks to papal patronage, Rome contains masterpieces from many of the world's greatest artists. Some famous artists "shaping the face of Rome" include: 

* Alessandro Algardi

* Gian Lorenzo Bernini

* Francesco Borromini

* Bramante

* Caravaggio

* Domenichino

* Carlo Fontana

* Michelangelo Buonarroti

* Pietro da Cortona

* Raphael Sanzio

* Carlo Rainaldi

* Vignola

* And more...

Also See: Vatican Museums

Roman Curia

"The totality of organized bodies which assist the pope in the government and administration of the Church, namely, the Congregations, the Tribunals and the Curial offices, together with certain permanent commissions" (Catholic Dictionary) 

Also See: Roman Curia (Reflections) | Dicastery

Roman Proverbs 

Over the years, various "Roman proverbs" have developed. Some of the more popular ones include:

* " Rome wasn't built in a day"

* " All roads lead to Rome"

* " When in Rome, do as the Romans do"

Roman Rota

A court of appeal and one of three Roman Tribunals (see below).

Also See: Roman Rota (Reflections)

Roman Tribunals 

Definition: "A court of law of the Roman Curia" (Catholic Dictionary). The three tribunals are:

* Apostolic Penitentiary (deals with questions of conscience, absolution, dispensations, indulgences, etc.)

* Apostolic Signatura (supreme court of the Church)

* Roman Rota (court of appeal)

Rome: Airports

International Airports in Rome:

* Leonardo da Vinci (or Fiumicino) [Approx. 17 miles SW of Rome]

* G.B. Pastine-Ciampino ("Rome's second main airport") [At the foot of the Castelli Romani, approximately 9 miles SE of the city center]

Rome: Patron Saints

Patron Saints of Rome may include:

St. Agnes

St. Frances of Rome

St. Lawrence 

St. Paul the Apostle

St. Peter the Apostle

St. Philip Neri

Also See: Saints Section

Rome: Seven Hills

Rome's Seven Hills:

Aventino (Aventine)

Caelio (Celian)

Capitolino (Capitoline) [smallest]

Esquilino (Esquiline) [largest/highest]

Palatino (Palatine)

Quirinale (Quirinal)

Viminale (Viminal)

Note: The Vatican is located on Vatican Hill, which is not one of Rome's famous "seven hills".

Rome: Temperature / Rainfall / Sunshine

Avg. Temperature (min./max.) [F]:

Month

Avg. Temp. (min./max.)

Month

Avg. Temp. (min./max.)

January 

41 / 52

July

68 / 86

February 

43 / 55

August

63 / 81

March 

45 / 59

September

55 / 70

April 

50 / 64

October

48 / 61

May 

56 / 72

November

48 / 61

June 

63 / 86

December

43 / 54

Note: Rome's average maximum temperature ranges from about 55 degrees (F) (Dec.-Jan.) to about 85 degrees (F) (July-Aug.). Winters are considered "mild and rainy", while summers are described as "hot and dry". The "fiery heat" of July and August is considered "unbearably hot".

Rome's average daily hours of sunshine:

Ranges from about 3 hours (Dec.-Jan.) to nearly 10 hours (June)

Rome's average monthly rainfall: 

Ranges from about .25" (July) to nearly 4" (November), with 11 out of 12 months averaging about 1 inch or more

Rome: Time

"Rome is one hour ahead of GMT [Greenwich Mean Time] in winter, one hour ahead of BST [British Summer Time] in summer, six hours ahead of New York and nine hours ahead of Los Angeles. Clocks are advanced one hour in April and turned back one hour in October." [Source: AAA]

The following chart may be helpful:

24 HOUR TIME COMPARISONS*

Rome

GMT (London)

[-1 hr]

New York

[-6 hrs]

Los Angeles

[-9hrs]

When it is ... in Rome*

It is ... in London*

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It is ... in Los Angeles^

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5:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.

* Note: Subject to change. Note that above may vary with changes in DST (Daylight Savings Time). Note that dates and amounts of time shifts may vary. For example, around the time of death of Pope John Paul II in 4/05, Californians might have noticed a 10 hour time difference, rather than 9 hours as shown above. This is because Rome transitioned to Daylight Savings Time on 3/27/2005, whereas California transitioned to Daylight Savings Time on 4/3/2005. 

Rome: Travel Info.

Note: We do not endorse any particular travel plan. Contact a good travel agent for assistance with travels.

"Best and most popular time to visit Rome": September and October

"Possibly the worst time to visit Rome": November ("the wettest month of the year, with possible strong and heavy rainstorms")

"Rome in a Day" / "Vatican City in a Day": 

A popular travel agency's suggestion for "visiting Rome in a day" includes: Piazza Venezia, Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, Colonna Traiano, Piazza del Campidoglio, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Arco di Constantino, Colle Oppio, Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, San Clemente, Via dei Santi Quattro Coronati, San Giovanni in Laterano. The travel agency also recommends visits to Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's) and Museo Vaticano (Vatican Museums). Similar travel agency suggestions for "visiting Vatican City in a Day" include the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Stanze di Raffaello, Museo Pio-Clementino, and St. Peter's. 

Some Roman Streets:

Highlighted streets in at least one popular travel guide include: Via Appia Antica (near catacombs, "best known Roman road, parts of which remain from more than 2000 years ago"), Via del Corso ("key street"), Via Guilia ("one of the most elegant streets in Rome"), and Via Veneto ("formerly Rome's most fashionable street").

Planning a Trip with Spiritual Value:

Note that Rome is full of "tourist attractions" of all sorts (historical, cultural, artistic, etc.). Catholics would be wise to consider the spiritual value of their travels as well, considering the unparalleled assortment of Catholic historical sites, relics, Catholic churches & basilicas, etc. available in and near this area. Consider contacting your diocese or favorite Catholic organization for planned trips and/or suggestions.

Warning for tourists: Unfortunately, Vatican City State has a high crime rate (especially due to the low number of residents there). In Rome and the vicinity, one must be especially careful for pickpockets and purse snatchers. It is said that "most such crimes remain unresolved." Note: Consult appropriate agencies for assistance in planning a "safe trip".

Also See: Rome: Airports | Rome: Temperature

Rome: Misc.

Misc. Roman Facts Include:

* Rome is said to be over 3,000 years old, "one of the most ancient European cities"

* Rome was known as the "Caput Mundi" ("the head / center / capital of the world")

* "Rome was first the headquarters of the Roman Empire and then the Catholic Church"

* Rome is also known as the "Eternal City" and "Holy Rome" ("Roma Santa")

* Rome is the "Capital of Christianity"

* Rome is the capital of Italy

* "Rome is the only city in the world that can claim to be a capital three times over. Besides being the capital of Italy, it contains the Vatican State and the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta."

* "Rome's area is about 580 square miles, with a population density in the province of Rome of 1,839 people per square mile."

* "Official population count of Rome": Over 2.6 million (1997) (it is said that the actual count may be nearly double)

* As many as 3.6 million U.S. tourists annually visit the province of Rome.

* Rome has had a significant impact on the world in various areas, especially legal, political, and architectural ("many legal and political systems follow the ancient Roman model and much architecture is based on techniques perfected in ancient Rome")

* "Rome contains a wealth of history, dating from the beginnings of Christianity" (and earlier)

* "In Rome, there is a coexistence of sacred and profane"

* Rome has a connection with many saints and martyrs, even dating back from the martyrdoms of St. Peter and St. Paul, who were both martyred in Rome.

* Public holidays in Rome may include: New Year's Day (1/1), Epiphany (1/6), Easter Sunday / Easter Monday, Ss. Peter and Paul's day (6/29), Assumption (8/15), All Saint's Day (11/1), Immaculate Conception (12/8), Christmas (12/25), and St. Stephens (12/26)

* Information regarding the U.S. Embassy in Rome may be found online, or you may try the following:

U.S. Embassy in Rome

Via Veneto

Tel. L 06 46 74 1

Note: Address/telephone and all other information subject to change. Information is provided for your convenience. We are not affiliated with or responsible for this third party organization. To report an address correction, click here.

Also See: Rome (Reflections)

Rome's Churches & Catacombs

Note: For a list of some of Rome's churches & catacombs, click here Note: Also see other listings herein (e.g. St. Peter's Basilica, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, etc.)

Santa Scala

Originally called Scala Pilati, the 28 marble stairs are traditionally believed to have been ascended by Our Lord Jesus during his trial under Pontius Pilate. Although they originally led to Pontius Pilate's office, they were removed from there in the early days of Christianity as an object of veneration. They were since located in Rome where they are ascended prayerfully by pilgrims - and popes! - on their knees. Now covered in wood, these stairs "reddened with the blood of Christ" are located near St. John Lateran. Although some call these stairs "falsely identified", tradition supports the authenticity of the stairs as do written sixth century accounts. Further, it is said that the marble used was a common type used at Jerusalem at the time and that the steps had been known to be missing. These holy stairs have been called "an essential stop for pilgrims in Rome".

Seven Churches of Rome

"The Seven Churches of Rome": 

* St. Peter's (S. Pietro)+

* San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran)+

* San Paolo Fuori le Mura (St. Paul's outside the Walls)+

* Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major)+

* Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross in Jerusalem)

* San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura (St. Lawrence outside the Walls)

* San Sebastiano Fuori le Mura (St. Sebastian outside the Walls)

+ Denotes Major basilica/patriarchal basilica

Also See: St. Peter's Basilica | St. John Lateran | St. Mary Major | St. Paul Outside the Walls

St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano)

San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran) is the cathedral church in Rome and the patriarchal basilica of the Roman Pontiff. It was built in the 4th century and is called the "Mother Church of Christendom". It was given to the Church by Constantine, and was formerly the residence of the popes (before the Avignon Papacy). It is located on one of the "seven hills of Rome" and is extra-territorially a part of the Vatican City State. It is one of the four great Roman Basilicas. It was richly adorned by various popes and other benefactors, and became known as "the golden basilica." During the years, it has suffered attack, earthquakes, and fires, causing it to be rebuilt various times. It houses an altar believed to have been used by St. Peter to celebrate Mass.

St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore)

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major), "The world's largest church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary" and one of the four major basilicas in Rome is also thought to be the oldest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. It is a "church of many names", having also been called the Liberian Basilica, Santa Maria ad Praesepe ("St. Mary of the Crib"), and St. Mary of the Snow. Although it suffered damage during the years (e.g. by earthquakes), it is reputed to be "the only Roman basilica to have retained its original core". Its original founding is associated with a miraculous event in the fourth century. According to tradition, Our Lady caused the snow to fall in the middle of summer to mark the spot for the basilica in response to a pious, wealthy couple's desire to donate their possessions to the Church. Both the couple and the pope (Pope Liberius) had a dream regarding Our Lady's desire for the a church to be built. The miraculous summer snowfall occurred in August and the basilica was subsequently built in that location. The miraculous event is commemorated annually at the basilica by the showering of flower petals. St. Mary Major is home to important mosaics and various other "art treasures". It is said that the gilded ceiling was made of gold believed to be the first brought from America by Columbus. The basilica is used by the pope on several important occasions each year (e.g. for Mass on the Feast of the Assumption). 

St. Paul Outside-the- Walls (S. Paolo Fuori le Mura)

St. Paul outside-the-walls (also called "St. Paul without-the-walls) is the second largest basilica in Rome (after St. Pietro) and one of the four Major Basilicas of Rome. It is the location of St. Paul's tomb (near the site of his martyrdom). The original basilica was built by Constantine. Since then, it has suffered damage from earthquakes and fire and has undergone much rebuilding. Until the construction of the new St. Peter's Basilica, it was the largest basilica in Rome. 

St. Peter 

St. Peter, originally called Simon, was one of the earliest followers of Jesus. Upon seeing Simon, Jesus renamed him "Peter" (see Jn. 1:42), which means "rock". The name change was significant, since St. Peter would become the "rock" upon which Jesus would build his Church (see Mt. 16:18). In Holy Scripture, St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, was promised the papacy by Our Lord Jesus Christ after confessing Christ as the Son of God:

"When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter said in reply, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' Jesus said to him in reply, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'" (Mt. 16:13-19)

After His Resurrection, Christ confirmed St. Peter as the Supreme Pastor of His flock (the first pope), and on Pentecost, St. Peter began immediately to assume this role. Eventually, St. Peter would move to Rome and be martyred there in the year 64 or 67. Since St. Peter's death, there have been an unbroken line of successors to his pontifical throne. 

Also See: St. Peter (Reflections) | Authority / Supremacy (Q & A) | Vatican View: Q & A | Pope (Topical Scripture) | Papal Infallibility

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)

The Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica), is considered the "world's most famous church" and "the largest church in the world". It was built over the tomb of St. Peter, the first pope, who was crucified there, upside down, in 64/67 A.D. The present structure, dating from the sixteenth century, replaced an earlier basilica built by Constantine (which had previously replaced a shrine that had been there). In the present basilica, St. Peter's tomb lies beneath the high altar (which was recently confirmed by excavations). The present structure utilized the talents of famous artists such as Michelangelo, Bramante, and Bernini. It contains various important works of art, as well as many altars, tombs, and monuments. Its famous dome has been called the "largest dome in the world" and the basilica itself is visited by an estimated 10 million people per year. Many important Church functions are held there (including canonizations).

Located in front of Peter's Basilica is St. Peter's Square, "the world's most beautiful public place". St. Peter's square is flanked by Bernini's famous colonnades (two half circles of colonnades, symbolic of arms stretched out to embrace), which are ultimately topped by well over 100 statues of saints. Enclosed within are two fountains and a huge obelisk (which contains a fragment of the True Cross).

St. Peter's Basilica adjoins the Vatican Palace, the residence of the pope and home to the Vatican Museums.

St. Susanna (Santa Susanna)

Santa Susanna is the national church of American Catholics in Rome. It has been called "a home away from home for English speaking people living in Rome".

Swiss Guards

"The corps of papal guards responsible for the custody of the outer doors and gates of the Vatican Palace and City and of the personal apartments of the pope, whom they also attend at all functions." (Catholic Dictionary) The Pontifical Swiss Guard dates from the beginning of the sixteenth century. 

Although the Swiss Guards are considered "the most famous army in the world" and "the oldest continuous military corps in existence", they have not fought in battles for hundreds of years (and were even required to lay down their arms by papal command on several occasions). 

It is commonly believed that the colorful Swiss Guard uniform (gold, red, yellow, and blue) was designed by Michelangelo, but the Vatican website has said that "It is commonly thought that the uniform was designed by Michelangelo, but it would seem rather that he had nothing to do with it."

Tour of the Seven Churches

St. Philip Neri / Tour of the Seven Churches Includes: 

S. Pietro

S. Paolo Fuori le Mura

S. Sebastiano Fuori le Mura

S. Giovanni in Laterano

S. Croce in Gerusalemme

S. Lorenzo Fuori le Mura

S. Maria Maggiore

Vacant Seat / Sedevacantist

The Church enters a period of sede vacante (Latin for "empty seat") after the death of a pope. This period continues until the election of a new Roman Pontiff.

By contrast, schismatic Catholics who assert that there has been no canonically elected pope for many years are called Sedevacantists. Note: The Sedevacantists maintain that there has been no canonically elected pope since the 1960's and essentially claim that only the small number that recognize this 'situation' are in the true Church. 

Also See: Election of a Pope | Conclave

Vatican Address / Website

For the Vatican mailing address, click here

For the Vatican website, try the Catholic Web Links section

Vatican City (Citta del Vaticano)

Vatican City (or Vatican City State), located in southern Europe, is the location of the Vatican ("the official residence of the Pope and the administrative center and world headquarters of the Catholic Church"). It is considered "the smallest independent nation state in the world by size and population". It is surrounded by Rome, Italy and takes its name from Vatican Hill [Latin: Mons Vaticanus (predating Christendom), not one of the famous seven hills] where it is situated. Vatican City is the location of St. Peter's Basilica (click here), the Vatican Museums (click here), and the papal palace. It is governed by the Holy See (click here).

This area has a long history, including the burial of St. Peter there in the first century after his martyrdom. In the fourth century, the land was given by Constantine to the Pope, where the first basilica was erected over St. Peter's grave, literally "built on St. Peter". Years later, the area would become the residence of the Pope, and in 1929, after the confiscation of the papal states and after many years of "prisoner popes" the sovereignty of the Vatican State was finally recognized with the signing of the Lateran Treaty (February 11, 1929). The treaty also granted extraterritorial status to various other areas [including San Giovanni in Laterano, San Paolo fuori le Mura and Santa Maria Maggiore, and Castel Gandolfo (the summer residence of the pope)].

Additional Vatican City Facts:

* The pope is the Head of State of the country of Vatican City. [Note: Despite being called "Vatican 'City'", Vatican City is actually a country.]

* Vatican City is roughly triangular in shape and is less than one fifth of a square mile in size (about 109 acres).

* Vatican City may have just a few hundred permanent residents and a thousand total residents (many of its citizens are clergy or nuns, with much of its population being male).

* Vatican City is said to have a "zero birth rate".

* Vatican City is considered "the most visited state in Europe", receiving several millions pilgrims annually.

* The official language of Vatican City is Latin (Italian may also be commonly spoken).

* Vatican City mints its own coins.

* Vatican City issues its own postage stamps.

* Vatican City has its own flag.

* Vatican City has its own Internet country code (.va).

* Vatican City has its own legal system.

* Vatican City has its own post office.

* Vatican City has its own diplomats.

* Vatican City is guarded by the Swiss Guards (click here). 

In addition to having "more phones in proportion to its population than any other city or nation on earth", Vatican City also has its own radio station, publishing house, newspaper, and television studio.

It also houses chapels (including the famous Sistine Chapel, with its renowned ceiling painted by Michelangelo), courtyards, gardens, museums (click here), government offices of the Church, and the Vatican Library (click here). The Papal Palace (or Palace of the Vatican) is said to contain more than 1,000 rooms. Many famous artists and architects worked on the Vatican's buildings. Vatican City is separated from the Republic of Italy by a white line.

Vatican City is supported by a variety of sources, including contributions from Catholics worldwide (Peter's Pence), tourist mementos, admission fees, investment income, and other profits. Although Vatican City is home to many priceless treasures, they are said to have "no market value" since the Church will not sell them, but instead preserves them for the benefit of the faithful and of the world at large. In fact, maintaining these treasures is quite costly, and the number of items that must be cared for is "constantly increasing".

Also See: Holy See | Location of Popes / Vatican (Q & A)

The Vatican Flag

"The Church's banner originally featured the figure of St. Peter on a red background. Pope Innocent III replaced the figure with symbolic keys surmounted by a white cross; and Boniface VIII opted for a red silk standard spangled with gold stars. The flag remained unchanged until 1824, when Leo XII gave it the colors it has today, yellow and white; the keys have been crowned by the papal tiara ever since." (Rome)

The Flag of Vatican City contains one vertical band of yellow, and one vertical band of white. Crossed keys of silver and gold and the papal tiara appear on the white band. Note: There is probably at least one of these flags in your parish (e.g. in the sanctuary).

Graphical Representation of the Vatican Flag:

(not an exact image)

Vatican Flag

   

Vatican Library / Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

The Vatican Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana) contains a "priceless collection of ancient manuscripts and more than one million bound volumes" and "easily rates as the world's most valuable collections of books and manuscripts".

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums are considered "outstanding" and "home to some of the most beautiful art in the world". They are considered "one of the world's richest and largest collection of paintings, sculptures and other works of art accumulated by the papacy over the centuries". The art is considered to be of the "highest historical and cultural importance". The museums originated with the collection of sculptures by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century. Today, parts of the Vatican are open to visitors, including rooms, galleries, chapels, and museums. Items on display may include antiquities, sculptures, vases, lapidary, paintings, tapestries, artifacts, ceramics, mosaics, religious art, historical portraits, monuments, carriages/vehicles, old topographical maps, etc. Tours of the various items may be available [and may include the famous Sistine Chapel (named after its founder, Pope Sixtus IV)]. Popes are credited with promoting culture and art history by being among the first rulers to open art collections to the public. 

Vatican Publications

Vatican publications may include:

Acta Apostolicae Sedis - "Vatican's official newspaper". Includes documents, legislation, etc. in Latin as well as some writings in their original language. "Technically no Vatican document is ever officially promulgated until it appears in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis"

Annuario Pontificio (Pontifical Annual/Pontifical Yearbook) - An annual directory of Holy See containing names of cardinals bishops, priests, dioceses, statistics, etc.

L'Osservatore Romano - "Vatican City's 'semiofficial' daily newspaper". A daily newspaper in Italian with some items in their original languages. The paper is considered "influential far beyond the city walls". Note: There are weekly editions of this paper in various languages.

The Vatican Information Service (VIS) "[provides] electronic daily news service in real time of activities of the Holy Father and the Holy See". The Vatican also has a website, radio station, and television center.

Note: The printing press of the Vatican was formerly called the Vatican Polyglot Press, but it was renamed in 1991 to the Vatican Press. The Vatican's publishing operations are considered "extensive" with its books and other published items being sold all over the world.

Reminder: Above items not comprehensive. All items subject to change.

Also See: Vatican Radio

Vatican Radio

The Vatican radio station (HVJ/Radiogiornale) was designed by the inventor of the radio (Marconi), and had its first broadcast in 1931. It now transmits hundreds of hours of programming in dozens of languages each week to its global audience. It has been called "one of the most influential [radio stations] in Europe".

Note: In addition to the radio station, the Vatican Television Center (CTV) was created in 1983.

Also See: Vatican Publications

Vicar of Christ

"Vicar of Christ" is a synonym for Pope, who acts in the name of Christ with the authority given him by Christ. The Pope is also called the Supreme Pontiff, Holy Father, etc. Note: Click here  for more papal titles.

Misc.

Sedia Gestatoria - A portable papal throne for carrying the Pope on solemn entries

Mirabilia Urbis Romae - "Rome's first guidebook", dating from the twelfth century.

"Biblioteca Angelica" - Rome's first public library (founded in 1614)

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva - "Rome's only Gothic church"

Obelisk of Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano - "Most ancient & tallest obelisk in Rome"

Churches in Rome that may admit animals on certain days - Click here for information on this topic (St. Francis section)

Top | Vatican View Section | Vatican View: Q & A | Vatican View Reflections


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