Vatican City is an absolute ecclesiastical monarchy and the smallest country in the world. It is located in Rome and was established by the Lateran Treaty between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See in 1929. It has a population of approximately 1000. Vatican City is not recognised as a democracy and can therefore not be a member of such international organisations as the United Nations.
The Holy See is the central government of the Catholic Church, and the Vatican City State provides the Holy See with a small territorial base which causes it to be recognised as an independent sovereign entity. The Hague Convention of 1954 protects all Vatican territory as world cultural heritage.
The Vatican City offers visitors a look into the Catholic world in so many different ways. It is a religious site and therefore dress code is a factor. St. Peter’s Square, known locally as Piazza San Pietro, is the massive plaza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. From here one can see the papal apartments and the balcony from which the Pope makes his public appearances. St. Peter’s Basilica is a pilgrimage site for many and the biggest and possibly best-known church in the world. This particular site has been the location of a church since the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great was around.
It is the second St. Peter’s and was built in the 1500s to replace the first St. Peter’s Basilica from the fourth century which itself was built over the historical site of the Circus of Nero. This was where thousands of Christians were martyred in the first century. The Vatican Museums are Vatican City’s national museum of art. Popes through the ages have been avid art collectors which means that the Catholic Church owns among the most renowned classical sculptures and masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world.
The Sistine Chapel forms part of the Vatican Museums, and this is where Michelangelo’s famous paintings are to be seen, most notably the Creation of Adam on the ceiling. Vatican Scavi necropolis started off as a humble cemetery in the first century. This is martyred Christians were buried fresh from the Circus of Nero. Peter was among them, if the legend is to be believed, and so he is one of those buried in this location on which a church was later built. During the mid-twentieth century, a series of excavations (scavi, in Italian) were commissioned beneath the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The idea was to find Saint Peter’s tomb, which never actually happened, but papal tombs, an ancient Roman street and more than 20 mausoleums, some containing hundreds of bodies, were indeed discovered. These can now be viewed as part of a tour of the Vatican Scavi necropolis. The Swiss Guard who protect the Vatican City are worth seeing while in the Eternal City, all traditionally dressed and suitably trained in military prowess. It may be less easy to see the Pope, but while he is in town, he does address the crowd twice a week.
ETIAS will only affect the nationals of the 62 countries, including Australia, who benefit from the current visa liberation policy. Since Vatican City is neither a member of the EU or a Schengen country, its international alignment with Italy serves as its connection to these bodies. As such, those requiring ETIAS to enter Europe will also need the pre-authorisation to visit the Vatican City as of 2021 when ETIAS is implemented.
The European Commission suggested the system as a means to control terrorist influence and uninhibited immigration within Europe. Potential risks will be screened during the application process and denied entry to the European country, thereby better securing the safety of traveller and citizens alike.
Applicants will apply online at a small fee, applicable to over 18s only. The process takes only minutes, and authorisation is granted within minutes. The authorisation is in the form of an electronic attachment to the passport and is valid until the passport expires or three years, whichever comes first.
Australia has a rich Catholic background and heritage, going back to its days as a penal colony for the British. The church was among the first establishments to take up their place in the new colony. The Catholic diocese had a marked hand in orphanages, schools, priories and welfare projects throughout Australia going back to its beginnings.
Australia and the Holy See have had apostolic relations from 1914 and diplomatic relations since 1973. Diplomatic relations are conducted through a network of diplomatic posts, known as Nunciatures. An Apostolic Nunciature, or Embassy, was established in Canberra in 1973. Australia’s resident Ambassador to the Holy See has allowed the opportunity for expanded dialogue on human rights, refugees and anti-people smuggling, political and religious freedom, global development, inter-faith issues, peacekeeping and conflict prevention and global and regional security including arms control.
Australia’s first Saint was created in 2010 when Mary MacKillop was canonised in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City, as witnessed by an estimated 10,000 Australians.
Australia does not have economic or trade relations with the Vatican City, and there are no residents in the country said to have ancestral ties with the Vatican City itself.