- Historical event:
- 7 June 1929
- The Vatican City is today the smallest country in the world, with an area of only 44 hectares. In earlier centuries, when Italy was not yet united, the Papal States included the entire area of central Italy.
On this day the famous Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy was ratified, thus forming the Vatican City State.
In earlier centuries, when Italy had not yet been united, the Papal States included the entire area of central Italy (the territories of the present Italian provinces of Umbria, Lazio, Romagna, and Marche).
With the unification of Italy, the papal territory was reduced to the city of Rome, and was later reduced even more.
Finally, in 1929, Mussolini’s fascist government signed a treaty with church representatives, establishing the specific boundaries of the Vatican City State. This created today’s smallest country in the world, with an area of only 44 hectares.
It is interesting that the new state, beside the bulk of the territory on the Vatican hill in Rome (around St. Peter’s Basilica), received a number of extraterritorial property within Italy, which are owned by the Holy See and have a similar extraterritorial status as foreign embassies in some countries.
These properties are, for example, the well-known Castel Gandolfo (the papal summer residence southeast of Rome), important basilicas in Rome, and a number of university buildings and palaces in Rome in which the Catholic Church institutions are headquartered.
The mentioned agreement, with which the Vatican was formed, is called the Lateran Treaty (after the Lateran Palace in Rome, where popes had their headquarters before moving to the Vatican).
On behalf of the Holy See, the Lateran Treaty was signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, and by the fascist Duce Benito Mussolini on behalf of the Kingdom of Italy.
Interestingly, when in 1938 the Fascists introduced anti-Jewish laws in Italy and forbade marriages of Jews and non-Jews, the Vatican rejected such laws and found these marriages valid if they were concluded in a church ceremony.