Vatican Radio

Vatican Radio

Infobox Radio Station
name=Vatican Radio
Radio Vaticana

area =
airdate = 1931
frequency =
format = News, religious celebrations, in-depth programs, and music
owner = flagcountry|Vatican City
website = []

Vatican Radio ( _it. "Radio Vaticana") is the official broadcasting service of the Vatican.

Set up in 1931 by Guglielmo Marconi, today its programs are offered in 47 languages, and are sent out on short wave (also DRM), medium wave, FM, satellite and the Internet. The Jesuit Order has been charged with the management of Vatican Radio since its inception. During World War II and the rise of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, Vatican Radio served as a source for news for the Allies as well as broadcasting pro-Allied (or simply neutral) propaganda. [ [ Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust] ] A week after Pope Pius XII ordered the programming, Vatican Radio broadcast to an unbelieving world that Poles and Jews were being rounded up and forced into ghettos.

Today, programming is produced by over two hundred journalists located in 61 different countries. Vatican Radio produces more than 42,000 hours of simultaneous broadcasting covering international news, religious celebrations, in-depth programs, and music. Current general director is Father Federico Lombardi, S.J.



Vatican Radio began broadcasting with the callsign HVJ [Matelski, Marilyn J.. "Vatican Radio: Propagation by the Airwaves". 1995, Praeger. ISBN 0275947602 ] on two shortwave frequencies using 10 kilowatts of power on February 12, 1931, with the pontificial message "Omni creaturae" of Pope Pius XI. [Levillain 2002: 1600] Also in attendance was Guglielmo Marconi and Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who would become Pope Pius XII [Levillain 2002: 1600] Its first director was physicist Giuseppe Gianfranceschi, who was also the president of the Accademia dei Nuovi Lincei.

In 1933, a permanent microwave link was established between the Vatican Palace and the summer residence of the papacy, Castel Gandolfo. [Levillain 2002: 1600]

In 1936, the International Radio Union recognized Vatican Radio as a "special case" and authoirzed its broadcasting without any geographical limits. On December 25, 1937, a Telefunken 25-kW transmitter and two directional antennas were added. Vatican Radio broadcast over 10 frequences. [Levillain 2002: 1600] .

World War II

Following a report dated December 21, 1939, from Cardinal Hlond of Poznan, detailing the oppression of the Catholic church in Poland, the Pope Pius XII decided, among other measures, to use Vatican Radio' to provide "information regarding the condition of the church in Poland." The German broadcast on January 21, 1940, compared German activities to "what the Communists imposed on Spain in 1936."; the English service noted the attacks on the Church were not limited to the Soviets. [Blet 1999: 74-75]

During World War II, Vatican Radio's news broadcasts were banned in Germany. During the war, the radio service operated in four languages.

1940s and 1950s

In 1948, services expanded to 18 languages.

Because of space purposes, the Holy See acquired a 400-hectare area located 18 kilometers north of Rome at Santa Maria di Galera. The Italian Republic granted the site extraterritorial status in 1952. [Levillain 2002: 1600]

In 1957, a new broadcasting center was placed into operation, with a Philips 100-kW shortwave transmitter, two 10-kW shortwave transmitters, and one 120-kW mediumwave transmitters, with 21 directional and one omnidirectional antenna. The next phase involved two 100-kW transmitters aimed at Africa and Oceania, a 250-kW mediumwave transmitter for Europe, and a 500-kW transmitter for the Far East and Latin America. [Levillain 2002: 1600]

Radio Vaticana was one of 23 founding broadcasting organisations of the European Broadcasting Union in 1950.


During the 1930s the station made experimental television broadcasts. However, it wasn't until the 1990s that a regular (satellite) television service began.


The signals are transmitted from a large shortwave and medium-wave transmission facility for Radio Vatican. The Santa Maria di Galeria Transmitter was established in 1957 and it is an extraterritorial area in Italy belonging to the Holy See.

The most interesting aerial is the one for the medium wave frequency 1530 kHz, which consists of four 94 metre high grounded free standing towers arranged in a square, which carry wires for a medium wave aerial on horizontal crossbars. The direction of this aerial can be changed. [ [ General view of the Santa Maria di Galeria transmitter site.] ]

Radiation controversy

The Santa Maria di Galeria Transmitter site is the subject of a dispute between the station and some local residents who claim the non-ionising radiation from the site has affected their health. [ [ Vatican Radio officials charged - in case concerning the electromagnetic force of radio transmitters - Brief Article] from BNet] However these claims are not accepted by the station.

Vatican Radio covers a large area of the Rome municipality, as set by the 'extraterritorial right' in Italian law. To cover such a large area, the radio station has around 60 pylons higher than 100 meters (328 ft). Since this part of Rome is not under Italian jurisdiction, these transmitters are not subject to the Italian laws that limit the radiation that a radio station can emit. In the vicinity of these pylons, the radiation emitted can be more than the double the amount allowed by Italian law, as verified officially by the Italian Civil Defense and the Department for the Environment of the region of Lazio.

This situation causes much disturbance to the lives of the people living in this area: the most common complaints are that one can hear the transmissions breaking through on telephones, and many other electronic devices. (Due in many cases to the devices having poor electromagnetic immunity to the strong signals) The Region of Lazio has also found that the people in the area around the emitters are much more likely to have leukemia: the closer those in the examined sample lived to the radio station, the more likely they were to have leukemia, up to 6 times the Italian national average. (Agenzia di Sanità Pubblica - Regione Lazio - March 2001).

Vatican radio was recently subject to a lawsuit from the Regional Health Department for "Throwing of dangerous things" on the Italian ground. Every time it was sued the radio showed the 'Lateran Treaty', bilateral agreements signed by the Holy See and Benito Mussolini during Fascism. (The area around the radio station at the time it was built was not heavily populated).A well known Italian TV program called 'Le iene' (transl. 'the hyenas') went to the radio station and replaced the radio's insignia with a new one stating 'Radio Erode' meaning 'Herod's Radio', referring to Herod the Great and the Massacre of the Innocents, since the studies show that the most affected people are children 0 to 14 years old.


*Levilliain, Philippe. "The Papacy: An Encyclopedia". Translated by John O'Malley. Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0415922283
*Matelski, Marilyn J. Vatican Radio: Propagation by the Airwaves. 1995, Praeger ISBN 0275947602
*Blet, Pierre. Pius XII and the Second World War: According to the Archives of the Vatican. Translated by Lawrence J. Johnson. 1999, Paulist Press. ISBN 0809105039

ee also

*International broadcasting
*L'Osservatore Romano

External links

* [ Vatican Radio Official website] (multi-lingual)
* [ Founding of Vatican Radio]
*structurae|id=s0014186|title=Radio Vatican Towers en icon, fr icon, de icon
* [ Diagram of the Radio Vatican Towers]
* [ Diagram of the Radio Vatican Towers]
* [ Diagram of the Radio Vatican Towers]
* [ Diagram of the Radio Vatican Towers]

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