The Papal states is the name given to the extensive lands granted to the Pope in 754 by the Carolingian king Pepin the Short ruler of the franks and the father of Charlemagne.
These lands included vast territories in the Mediterranean coast of France and central Italy including the city of Rome.
These territories were gradually expropriated from the Popes, the last confiscation of land took place in 1870 by the Italian reunification, all that was left was the territory comprising what is now the Vatican and certain papal properties in Italy.
The Lateran agreements between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy were signed on February 11, 1929 , and ratified on June7, 1929, putting an end to the “Roman Question ” and the self imposed “exile of the Popes”.
Prior to these concordats, the Popes considered themselves “Prisoners in the Vatican” refusing to leave the enclave as a sign of protest.
The Lateran agreements recognized:
A. The sovereignty of the Holy See and the Vatican state.
B. The recognition of the Church as the official religion of the State.
C. Financial compensation to the Vatican for loss of territory and properties.
Did you know? In a concordat signed in 1984 between Italy and the Holy See, Italy no longer recognizes the Catholic Church as the official state religion.
The Lateran treaty was so called because it was signed in the Lateran palace . This palace was one of the first donations Constantine gave to the Church after the persecutions ended with the edict of Milan in 313.
In 1929, Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) became the first sovereign Pontiff of Vatican city.
Fascist prime minister of Italy Benito Mussolini signed the Lateran agreement on behalf of king Victor Emmanuel III king of the United Kingdom of Italy.
The United Kingdom of Italy came to an end with the birth of the Italian Republic on June 2, 1946. Until then, Italy was ruled by the House of Savoy .
The Pope , a word meaning father, is elected for life by a conclave.
The conclave is compose of an electorate of Cardinals called the college of Cardinals all of whom must be under 80 to be eligible to vote.
Upon his election the Pope becomes: Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City . This is his official title as head of state.
The Roman Curia Delegation of Powers for the Vatican State
The Pope exercises representation in international and diplomatic relations, through the Secretary of State , For instance, the secretary of state represents the Pope in the signing of concordats or agreements with other countries.
The legislative power has been delegated to the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State . This commission is comprised of Cardinals elected to a five year term and headed by the President of the Pontifical Commission.
Executive authority is delegated by the Supreme Pontiff to the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission , but he must submit questions of greater importance to this Commission for examination. He is assisted by a General Secretary and by a Deputy General Secretary.
The Papal Swiss Guard is the smallest army in the world consisting of only 110 men. The Swiss Guard has a tradition of nearly 500 years -- making it the oldest, continually active military corps in history.
On June 1505, Pope Julius II formally requested the service of Swiss mercenaries -- famed for their courage and loyalty.
On May 6, new recruits are sworn to serve at the Vatican. On this date in 1527, 147 Swiss Guards lost their lives defending the life of Pope Clement VII, during the sack of Rome .
Requirements to be a Swiss guard are:
Must Be Catholic in good moral standing.
Must be Swiss citizen between the ages of 19-30 years old
Must have attended military school in Switzerland.
Must be at least 174 cm tall
Must be single and have completed high school diploma.
As of December 31st 2005, there were 557, persons having the Vatican citizenship , of which 58 Cardinals, 293 of the Clergy having status as members of the Pontifical Representations, 62 other members of the Clergy, 101 members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and 43 other lay persons.