The Smallest World Power

Drawing of the territory of the Vatican State, 1929. Cataloque of the Exhibition '1929-2009. Photo: Braccio di Carlomagno

When Pope Alexander VII (1599-1667) decided to widen St. Peter Square in 1656, the Congregation of the Construction convened the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), who had already arranged the interior of the Church. He matured, not without thoughts, small and major changes, the plan of organization of the area that had to receive the faithful of the Christianity, as we see it today. In these days, the papal state still owned or dominated a large part of Italy. In 1870 however, Garibaldi had conquered the Patrimonimus Petri and the Papal state was dissolved and absorbed by the new Italian state. The Risorgimento of Italy meant the end of the centuries old Papal State. The Pope remained the head of the Catholic Church, but without any worldly power. It is only from 1929 that a new State was established: Vatican State or, formally, the Stato della Città del Vaticano. The ancient, medieval and baroque surroundings are deceptive from this point of view. The Collonade of Bernini is since 1929 the border on the South.

The initiator of the agreement between the new state and the Italian State was Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), who wanted to deal with the opaque status of the Vatican after 1870. He was inspired by political motives. Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) welcomed this step, because the ‘ship of Petrus’ had found a new and safe harbour to deal with the global ecclesiastical and religious affairs. Indeed, the management of a territory of only a few hundred square meters diminished the worldly ambitions, obligations and temptations of the Papacy. Back to the core business, we should say today, what appears already to be difficult enough. Today, the smallest world power celebrates eighty years of stormy history, further information: