Tomorrow is a holiday in the Vatican as this tiny city-state celebrates the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Lateran Accords that allowed the Vatican to recover its sovereign status after more than 50 years of disputes with the Italian state.
The Lateran Accords, in fact, ended the so-called “Roman Question” concerning the relationship between the Roman Pontiffs and the state of Italy.
Popes for many centuries had temporal as well as spiritual power, exercising authority over the fairly extensive Papal States. When the Kingdom of Italy annexed these States in 1870, the Popes demanded compensation and this was achieved only in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Accords.
Among other things, the Lateran Accords established the sovereign Vatican City State, made Catholicism the official religion of Italy and regulated Church-State relations. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the revision of the Concordat in 1984 at which time it was declared that Catholicism would no longer be the official State religion.
Vatican City, covering an area of 108.7 acres (44 hectares) is located on the “mons vaticanus,” the so-called eighth hill of Rome, and is bordered by the Leonine Walls and by the circular travertine strip in the pavement that joins the two arms of the Bernini colonnade in St. Peter’s Square.
Vatican City State’s estimated 700 inhabitants include people of many different nationalities, though most are Italian. At least 400 have Vatican citizenship, including those prelates who are heads of dicasteries in the Roman Curia. All cardinals have automatic Vatican citizenship but preserve their original citizenship.
The Head of State is the Supreme Pontiff, who has full legislative, executive and judicial power. Representation of the state and its relations with other states is reserved for the Supreme Pontiff, who exercises it through his Secretariat of State. Both the Vatican City State and the Holy See enjoy international recognition and are members of or hold permanent observer status in international and intergovernmental organizations, participate in international conferences with permanent observers and adhere to the respective conventions.