What is the Vatican?
Have you ever asked the question, “What is the Vatican?” If so, you’re like a lot of people. The Vatican is a term that refers to a place and a religion. There are subtle facts about the Vatican that need to be considered. First, Vatican City is a city-state. Second, the Roman Catholic Church runs the place. Last, The Holy See is the entity that handles diplomatic relations for the country and runs the Church. One thing they all have in common is that the Pope is the supreme leader.
More about the Term
Those who wonder about “what is the Vatican?” need to differentiate the use of the term. The Vatican City is a country but is often referred to as simply the Vatican. Others use the term “the Vatican” to refer to the Church or affairs of the Church. For most purposes, the usage of the term is okay. It conveys the meaning that the Church, which is located in Vatican City, is performing some act. To be technically accurate, though, it is probably more appropriate to be specific when referencing The Holy See, the Roman Catholic Church, and Vatican City.
History of the Vatican
The name “Vatican” refers to Vatican Hill, which is a part of Rome that existed even before the Church did. Vatican City did not spring into existence until 1929 as part of the Lateran Treaty. The territory was ceded to the Church by the government of Benito Mussolini as part of a settlement with the Papal States. The Vatican City designation refers to the city-state which is located in Rome. The Vatican as an organization that handles the affairs of the Roman Church likely began being referred to using that term when the city-state was born. So, what is the Vatican? It’s basically the official Roman Catholic Church.
Power of the Vatican
The Vatican has a lot of power, especially when compared to its land mass. The city-state is small, but the Church has enormous influence because its huge size and long history. Vatican City is a projection of that power. The architecture and grandeur of the buildings in Vatican City speak of a long history of international influence. The Church used to yield hard power that was backed by military force. Now the power is largely symbolic soft power that is the result of their standing and position worldwide. The Vatican has a lot of influence over 1.2 billion people, many of whom work in important positions.
The Vatican Now
In modern times, what is the Vatican? It’s now a thriving country-state and a huge religion that conducts numerous affairs worldwide. There are over 400,000 Catholic clergy worldwide. They oversee diverse projects and flocks in almost every part of the world. Catholic charity organizations perform work in disaster zones. The Vatican has a responsibility to its Church members, but also to Italy. Vatican City is one of Rome’s most alluring tourism spots. The Catholics who flock to see their Pope spend a lot of money during their visits. The Vatican is also responsible for fighting “The Devil” whenever they encounter him. The Church employs numerous exorcists who expel demons when needed. The Church takes their responsibilities serious. In particular, they are a very old institution that uses time-tested methods to pass the power down year after year. Many Catholic institutions are the oldest of their kind on earth. This unique history has seen the Church operate through eras as diverse as the Middle Ages, the
Renaissance, and the Industrial Revolution.
Again, what is the Vatican? It’s a term that represents the full functions of the Roman Catholic Church, although there are a few technical specifications needed to ensure clarity. The Vatican is a place and a Church. The Vatican powers the followers of Catholicism. It serves are their physical and spiritual center. The Holy See has been around since the fourth century. The Vatican is a new construct but represents the historical nature of the Church. These days, Vatican City is synonymous with the workings of the Church. Catholics who want to extend their knowledge of their faith visit this place on pilgrimages.
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