Vatican City History

Vatican City History

The establishment of Christianity in Rome

The Vatican has been an independent and sovereign state since February 11, 1929 through the Lateran treaties. It forms the small remnant of the former world domination of the popes. Only from the beginning of the 4th century AD Christianity was tolerated in Rome, 391 it was raised to the state religion. The Pope, as head of the Catholic Church, was (and is) the successor to the apostle Peter, bishop of Rome. The title “Pope” was first attested in the 4th century.

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The Roman emperor Constantine the Great had a basilica built on Monte Vaticano above the tomb of the apostle Peter (the first bishop of Rome) in 324. From 330 AD, Byzantium (Constantinople, today’s Istanbul), founded on the Asia Minor Peninsula, was named the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great. After the division of the Roman Empire in 395, Byzantium became the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine), Rome became the center of the Western Roman Empire.

While in the Eastern Roman Empire the state authority overruled the church and the emperor united the highest secular and ecclesiastical powers in himself, the spiritual leader of the Western Roman Empire (Pope) was no longer subject to uniform state authority after the deposition of the last Western Roman emperor (476) opposite, but a number of Germanic empires.

From the 4th century the Roman church in Italy increasingly acquired real estate. From the beginning of the 6th century, the real estate in and around Rome was structured by Pope Gregory I (until 604) and a separate administration was established. The popes resided in a palace in the Laterano district in Rome, which was given to the Roman Christian community in the 4th century by the Roman emperor.

Alliance with the Franconian rulers

In the 8th century Pope Stephan II made an alliance with the Franconian ruler Pippin III. against the invading longobards. Pippin III took over for the church legitimization of his rule and the award of the title “patricius Romanorum”. the sovereignty and patronage over Rome and the church and handed over their territories to the Pope after the withdrawal of the Lombards (“Pippinian donation”). This was the foundation of the Papal States.

In the 8th century the Papal States broke away from the Byzantine Emperor by Pope Leo III. According to AbbreviationFinder, Carolingian crowned Charlemagne emperor in 800. This made the emperor the patron and secular head of Roman Christianity, while the pope was the spiritual head.

Division of the Roman church

In 1054 there was a final division of the all-Roman church into the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Roman and Greek Orthodox churches.

In the 10th century, the Papal States were ruled by the German Emperor Otto I. The disputes about supremacy that culminated in the Investiture dispute in the 11th century (Investitur = right to appoint a bishop) continued until the fall of the Staufer dynasty in the middle of the 13th century.

The great occidental schism

The Papal States continued to expand until the beginning of the 13th century until it encompassed today’s Italian regions of Emilia Romagna, Lazio, Umbria and Marche. After the fall of the German Staufer dynasty, France became the dominant political power in Europe. In 1305, the French nobleman Raymond Bertrand de Goth was elected Pope at the instigation of the French king (Clement V). In 1309 the papal residence was moved to Avignon (until 1377). This so-called “Babylonian Captivity of the Church” led to the disintegration of the Papal States. In 1378 there was a great occidental schism that lasted until the Constance Council in 1417: two or three popes simultaneously claimed the highest authority in the church.

The church schism, the increasing secularization of the clergy and the papacy, the accumulation of wealth and the curial financial system, which constantly opened up new income opportunities (eg the indulgence trade, in which the faithful could “buy themselves free” of their sins), led to that against At the end of the 14th century church reform was demanded from many sides. However, this failed due to the resistance of the papacy.

In 1473, under Pope Sixtus IV, construction began on a papal chapel, which was completed in 1481 as the Sistine Chapel. A few years later, Pope Innocent VIII issued his bull “Summis desiderantis”, which gave the church witch hunters extensive powers to charge and convict alleged witches.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Pope Julius II succeeded in recapturing lost areas and creating a centrally administered state again. During this time, an alliance was concluded with the Swiss Confederation, in which, among other things, the Swiss Guard was established as the Pope’s personal guard. The construction of the Peterskirche began in 1506 (inauguration in 1626).

Age of the Reformation

In the 16th century, the Catholic Church and the Papacy were severely weakened by the Reformation movement. Until the 18th century, the Papal States still played an important role in terms of power politics. Since its foundation, the state has had its own troops, which, for example, defeated the naval forces of the Ottoman Empire together with Spanish and Venetian soldiers in the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571 (“Holy League”).

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII. the Gregorian calendar named after him was introduced, which replaced the Julian calendar.

Dissolution of the Papal States

At the end of the 18th century, French troops under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Italy and the Papal States suffered great losses of territory (Peace of Tolentino 1797). Two years later, Bonaparte declared the Papal States dissolved and proclaimed the “Roman Republic”. Pope Pius VI was arrested and brought to France. After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Vienna Congress in 1815 confirmed the restoration of the Papal States.

After the founding of an Italian kingdom in 1861, the Papal Papal State was gradually incorporated into the kingdom. In 1870 the Papal States were dissolved and no longer had any territory.

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The Vatican since 1929

Pope Pius XI At the end of the 1920s, the so-called Lateran Treaties were negotiated with the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (Prime Minister of Italy), which created the Vatican as a sovereign state recognized under international law with its own state territory. As compensation for the dissolution of the Papal States between 1870 and 1929, the Vatican of Italy received a sum of around 1.75 billion lire, which was invested in shares, company shares and precious metals. In the Lateran treaties, the Catholic religion was also laid down as the state religion, in return the Pope recognized Rome as the capital of Italy. The Basic Law of the Vatican State was enacted in the same year.

In 1962 the Second Vatican Council (until 1965) began in Rome, which decided on an internal reform and modernization of the church in response to changing social circumstances (the First Vatican Council had taken place in 1869/70). Among other things, Latin was abolished in the decisions of the Council as the only permissible language of the fair in favor of the national languages.

In 1978 the Cardinal College elected the Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as the new Pope John Paul II. After 455 years, a non-Italian was re-elected head of the Catholic Church for the first time. In 1984 the content of the Lateran contracts was renewed and essentially confirmed.

In 1996 the Pope recognized Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and declared it “compatible with the Christian faith”. The head of the Catholic Church continued to categorically reject contraception. The Ponitifkat of Pope John Paul II, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, was characterized above all by his numerous trips abroad. The Pope decidedly refused to resign due to illness. The euro was introduced as currency in the state of the Vatican City in 2002

After the death of John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected new pope in 2005 and called himself Benedict XVI. He sought dialogue with Islam and also tried to improve relations with the People’s Republic of China. Diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates were established in 2007.

In 2009, the Catholic Church was hit by an abuse scandal. As more and more cases of sexual abuse of Catholic clergy against children became known, Pope Benedict XVI made several apologies to those affected and asked for forgiveness. In addition to Germany, the scandal also affected Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands. In April, the Vatican published internal rules for dealing with abuse cases in the Catholic Church.

After Benedict XVI’s resignation. Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected 266th Pope in February 2013 for reasons of age. He has been in office since March 2013 and is called Francis. Francis is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit in the papacy.

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