A great deal of space for a tiny state
All the world recognises the scene when, at Easter and Christmas each year, crowds of believers gather to hear the Pope’s “Urbi et Orbi“ message. That is when the lively St Peter’s Square comes into its own – as the central gathering place of the Vatican City State, the heart of the Catholic Church.
A place of pilgrimage and a centre of belief
In former times, the Roman hill near which the Apostle Peter was said to be buried was known as the Vatican. The church that stood there was replaced by a larger church in the 4th century which later became St Peter’s Cathedral as we know it today. Vatican Hill became the main place of pilgrimage to honour St Peter.
A cathedral without a bishop
It was not until the end of the 14th century that Vatican Hill became the seat of papal government, home of the Roman Curia and with it the centre of the church state and the Catholic Church. Building work on St Peter’s Cathedral began in 1506 and was completed in 1650. In fact, it is not a cathedral at all, as the Pope’s church in his role as Bishop of Rome is actually the Lateran Basilica.
World church and Apostle’s grave
As the church where the Apostle Peter is buried, St Peter’s Cathedral or Basilica is still today one of the most holy shrines of the Roman Catholic faith. It can hold a congregation of 60,000 and is the largest church in the world. The Basilica’s double dome is the world’s largest cantilever brick structure. Directly below the dome is the papal altar beneath which, according to tradition, lies the grave of St Peter.
Modern solutions for Christian commitment
The Order of the Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice (Daughters of Maria Ausiliatrice – Salesian Nuns of Don Bosco) is represented near the Vatican. This order helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain a sound education and training. Efficiency is well in evidence in the kitchen and laundry serving the Vatican and the Orders where Miele technology guarantees optimum hygiene.
|Total land area||0,44 km²|