*Includes pictures *Includes accounts describing the Vatican's history and buildings *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading By keeping the Divine faith, I am made a partaker of the light of truth...Hence...I profess the most holy religion...I have aroused each nation of the world in succession to a well-grounded hope for security...so that those which, groaning...to the most cruel tyrants...and daily sufferings, had...been utterly destroyed, [and] have been restored through my agency to a far happier state. - Letter of Constantine to the Persian King Sapor Every year, millions visit a stunning circuit board city starring gorgeous collections of interconnected rectangular buildings and charming houses in shades of beige, sandy-brown, and other earthy tones. Zoom in a little closer, and one can see the Renaissance-style exterior of its buildings and the exquisite detail captured in the statues mounted on the tops of its palaces and cathedrals. Take a gander through the doors inside these historic places, and one enters a whole new world even more mesmerizing than the view of the city bathed in the peach and purple tints of sunset. Nested inside Rome, this spellbinding destination is none other than Vatican City. The Vatican is an enchanting backdrop often found in literature, music, and the shimmering silver screen for good reason. Of course, being the smallest independent sovereignty in the world at just 44 hectares is a selling point that only scratches the surface. As the centuries-old home of the Catholic Church, its engrossing, eventful history, not to mention the rich and varied artwork and architecture contained within, ensures the influence and importance of the Vatican far surpasses its size. While the Vatican is best known for being the ultimate center of Roman Catholicism today, one might be surprised to learn that once upon a time, this area was a haven for pagan worship. Before the 1st century CE, the Ager Vaticanus, the forerunning name of the city, referred to the territories to the west of the Tiber River. This territory stretched from the Janiculum Hill to the Monte Mario, with the Mons Vaticanus, or Vatican Hill, sitting in its center. For the most part, the marshy lands of the Ager Vaticanus were inhabitable; whatever land the farmers managed to tame produced little to no crops, and according to Cicero, the famous Roman politician who lived in the 1st century BCE, the grapes were sour and the wine made from it rancid. The only sign of life seemed to have been found in a now extinct Etruscan town named Vaticum on Vatican Hill. This may have been the etymological source of Vaticanus, and later, its shortened form, Vatican. The Vatican and the Holy See: The History and Legacy of the Roman Catholic Church's Governing Body examines the remarkable impact the Vatican has had on the world over nearly 2,000 years. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Vatican like never before.
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