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History of the Vatican City

Background: The Holy See's diplomatic history began in the fourth century, but the boundaries of the papacy's temporal power have shifted over the centuries. Popes in their secular role ruled much of the Italian peninsula, including Rome, for more than a thousand years. In the middle of the 19th century, the Popes held sway over the Papal States, including a broad band of territory across central Italy. In 1860, after prolonged civil and regional unrest, Victor Emmanuel's army seized the Papal States, leaving only Rome and surrounding coastal regions under papal control.

In 1870 Victor Emmanuel captured the city of Rome and declared it the new capital of Italy, ending papal claims to temporal power. Pope Pius IX and his successors disputed the legitimacy of these acts and proclaimed themselves to be "prisoners" in the Vatican.

Three Lateran Treaties resolved several outstanding issues between a series of popes and the Italian state in 1929. They established the independent state of Vatican City out of the former Papal States and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. The Italian Government and the Holy See signed three agreements:

In 1984, a concordat between the Vatican and Italy modified certain of the earlier treaty provisions, including the primacy of Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion. Present concerns of the Holy See include the failing health of Pope John Paul II, who turned 80 on 20 May 2000, interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, and the adjustment of church doctrine in an era of rapid change. Over 1 billion people worldwide profess the Catholic faith.

See also : Vatican City