Prisoner in the Vatican

Prisoner in the Vatican

Infobox Former Country
native_name = "Stati della Chiesa"
conventional_long_name = States of the Church
common_name = Papal States|
continent = Europe
region = Italy
country = Italy
government_type = Theocracy|
year_start = 1870
year_end = 1929|
event_start = Establishment
event_end = 2nd Disestablishment
date_end = September 20|
event1 = proclaimed
date_event1 = 1870
event2 = Vatican City
date_event2 = February 11, 1929
p1 = Papal States
flag_p1 = Flag of the Papal States (1808-1870).svg
s1 = Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
flag_s1 = Flag_of_Italy_(1861-1946).svg‎
s2 = Vatican City
flag_s2 = Flag of the Vatican City.svg

symbol = Coat of arms of the Holy See

national_motto =
national_anthem =
capital = Prisoner in the Vatican ¹
common_languages = Latin, Italian
religion = Roman Catholic
currency =
leader1 =
leader2 =
year_leader1 =
year_leader2 =
title_leader = Pope
stat_year1 =
stat_area1 =
stat_pop1 =
footnotes = ¹ It is a city autonomously.
A "prisoner in the Vatican" is what Pope Pius IX claimed to be after the army of the Kingdom of Italy entered Rome (September 20 1870), as a component of Italian unification, and ending the millennial temporal rule of the popes over central Italy. The appellation is also applied to his successors through to Pope Pius XI.

It is reported that the Italian government intended to let the pope keep that part of Rome, west of the Tiber, called the Leonine City as a small remaining Papal State, [Kertzer, p. 45.] but that Pius IX would not accept that arrangement. However, it was only one week after entering Rome that the Italian troops took over all of this area except the Vatican palace. The inhabitants then voted to join Italy. [Kertzer, p. 63.]

For the next 59 years, the Popes refused to leave the Vatican, in order to avoid any appearance of accepting the authority wielded by the Italian government over Rome as a whole.

Law of Guarantees

The 13 May 1871 Italian Law of Guarantees, passed eight months after the capture of Rome, was an attempt to solve the problem by making the pope a subject of the Kingdom of Italy, not an independent sovereign, while guaranteeing him certain honors similar to those given to the king and the right to send and receive ambassadors.

The popes refused to accept this unilateral decision, which, they felt, could be reversed by the same power that granted it, and which did not ensure that their decisions would be clearly seen to be free from interference by a political power. They claimed that total sovereignty was needed so that a civil government would never attempt to interfere in the governance of the universal Catholic Church. Therefore, even after the Law of Guarantees, Pope Pius IX and his successors up to and including Pius XI decided not to leave the Palace of the Vatican, so as not to submit to the authority of the Italian State. As a result of the crisis, Pope Pius IX excommunicated the King of Italy.

Especially in the strongly Catholic rural areas of Italy, there was great tension between Church and State. The newly unified Kingdom of Italy didn't recognize the validity of Church weddings, and the Church claimed that Catholics shouldn't cooperate with the illegitimate State, not recognized by the Holy See, and that the Church weddings were sufficient before God, with no need for civil recognition.

Roman Question

Following the fall of Rome, most countries continued to accredit diplomatic representatives to the Holy See, seeing it as an entity of public international law with which they desired such relations, while they withdrew their consuls, whose work had been connected instead with the temporal power of the papacy, which was now ended. However, no diplomatic relations existed between the Holy See and the Italian State.

The Italian rulers took up residence in the Quirinal Palace, and seized Church property throughout Rome and the rest of Italy, but did not have the political support to seize the Vatican. Even before the fall of Rome, Italian republicans had sought to eliminate the papacy, with Giuseppe Garibaldi seeking international support for that end at an 1867 congress in Geneva, where he proposed: "The papacy, being the most harmful of all secret societies, ought to be abolished." [Giuseppe Guerzoni, "Garibaldi: con documenti editi e inediti", Florence, 1882, Vol. 11, 485.]

According to Jasper Ridley, ["Garibaldi," Viking Press, New York (1976) p. 576-77] at the 1867 Congress of Peace in Geneva, Garibaldi referred to "that pestilential institution which is called the Papacy" and proposed giving "the final blow to the monster". This was a reflection of the bitterness that had been generated by the struggle against Pope Pius IX in 1849 and 1860, and it was in sharp contrast to the letter that Garibaldi had written to the pope from Montevideo in 1847, before those events.

:"If these hands, used to fighting, would be acceptable to His Holiness, we most thankfully dedicate them to the service of him who deserves so well of the Church and of the fatherland. Joyful indeed shall we and our companions in whose name we speak be, if we may be allowed to shed our blood in defence of Pio Nono's work of redemption" (October 12 1847). [A. Werner, "Autobiography of Giuseppe Garibaldi", Vol. III, p. 68, Howard Fertig, New York, 1971.]

Unlike the earlier invasions of Italy by Napoleon, when Pope Pius VI died in French captivity, and Pius VII was taken captive for six years, the tension between the Italian state and the Papacy continued for 59 years, during which time the popes refused to leave the Vatican, so as not to give implicit recognition to the authority of that state over Rome and its surroundings by placing themselves under the protection of its officials. While some of the Italian revolutionaries thought that the papacy would disappear without the continuance of the papal states, the popes, relieved of their temporal concerns, grew in stature during their years of "imprisonment."

Eventually, it became impossible for the Italian state not to grant the Holy See's demand for visible independence and, on February 11 1929, the Lateran Pacts created a new minute state, that of Vatican City and opened the way for diplomatic relations between Italy and the Holy See.

The Holy See, for its part, recognized the Kingdom of Italy, with Rome as its capital, thus ending the situation whereby the Popes had felt constrained to remain within the Vatican. They were finally able to visit their cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, situated on the opposite side of the city of Rome, and to travel regularly to their summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, 30 km from Rome.

ee also

* Properties of the Holy See



* Kertzer, David. "Prisoner of the Vatican." Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

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