VATICAN, The, a palace situated on the eastern sections of the Vatican Hill in Rome, the principal residence of the popes since the return from Avignon in 1377 and their official residence since the capture of Rome by the Piedmontese in 1870. It originated in a residence built by Pope Symmachus (498-514) adjoining the Basilica of Saint Peter, but was rebuilt and greatly enlarged by subsequent popes, especially Nicholas V, Sixtus IV, Alexander VI and Julius II. The Basilica and Piazza of Saint Peter flank it on the south, while to the west lie the Vatican Gardens. Only a small part of the Vatican is residential and this part is around the Cortile di San Damaso; all the rest is used for scientific or administrative purposes. There are a large number of chapels which serve various purposes, the most important being the famous Sistine Chapel and the Cappella Paolina. The rear wall of the former contains Michelangelo's ‘Last Judgment,’ while its side walls contain frescoes executed by Florentine and Umbrian masters between 1481 and 1483. The Cappella Paolina, which is separated from the Sistine Chapel only by the Sala Regia, serves as the parish church of the Vatican.
The Vatican contains many works of art either in its museums and collections or as a part of its interior decorations. The Museo Pio-Clementino embraces 11 separate rooms and among its treasures are the Torso of Hercules, the Belvedere Apollo and the Laocoon. In the Galleria Chiaramonti there are more than 300 sculptures, chiefly the work of Greek sculptors living in Rome. From an architectonic point of view, the Braccio Nuovo, containing statues and busts, is the best of the museum buildings. The Egyptian Museum, embracing 10 halls full of statues, sarcophagi, mummies, etc., is among the first of Egyptian collections of the second rank. The Etruscan Museum contains objects of almost every description, giving a highly graphic picture of the art of ancient Italy and the customs of the Etruscans. These two museums are located, one below the other, at the northern end of the Giardino della Pigna.
Besides these museums, there are several galleries of paintings. The Vatican Pinacotheca, whose nucleus was the collection of art treasures taken by Napoleon to Paris and subsequently restored to Rome, contains works by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Angelico, Murillo, Perugino, Titian, Pinturicchio, Guido Reni, Correggio and many other Italian masters; while the Gallery of Modern Paintings contains, among others, the huge picture of the promulgation of the Immaculate Conception by Pius IX. The Appartamento Borgia consists of six rooms adorned with Pinturicchio's painting. In the second of the rooms the mvstenes of the life of Christ are depicted. The last two rooms are situated in the Torre Borgia. One of these formerly contained the Celebrated Nozze Aldobrandini, one of the finest antique frescoes surviving from classical times, which is now located in the Vatican Library.
One floor higher and an exact reproduction of the Appartamento Borgia in size and shape are the Stanze di Raffaello, so called because they were painted by or under the direction of Raphael. Immediately adjacent to the Stanze are the Loggie di Raffaello, while underneath the latter are the Loggie di Giovanni da Udine, a pupil of the Umbrian master. In the Galleria degli Arazzi hang the famous 27 pieces of tapestry. The studio for mosaic painting, for which the Vatican is justly famous, is said to possess nearly 30,000 different shades of vitreous compostion.
The scientific materials in the Vatican are abundant and easily accessible to research workers under certain restrictions. Reference is fadlitated by a great many volumes (some printed, some in manuscript) of indices, inventories and catalogues, so that information on all branches of human knowledge may be readily secured in the Vatican Archives and Library. The scientific management of the Vatican Archives is entrusted to a cardinal and the chief groups of archival materials are the Archivio Segreto, the Archive of Avignon, the Archive of the Apostolic Chamber, the Archive of Sant' Angelo, the Archive of the Dataria, the Consistorial Archive and the Archive of the Secretariate of State. The last named contains the correspondence of the nunciatures, legations, cardinals, bishops, prelates, princes, titled persons, military men and others. Besides these archives there are various collections, including the huge archive of the old Congregation del Buon Governo, which was entrusted with the economic administration of the Papal States from 1592. The entire collection of archives is of the greatest importance for the political and ecclesiastico-civil history of modern times, and is of especial interest to Americans because it abounds in materials for Amercan history, particularly of the period of colonization. Consult Fish, C. R., ‘Guide to the Materials for History in Roman and Other Italian Archives’ (Washington 1911).
In the importance of its materials the Vatican Library stands first among the great libraries of the world, containing approximately 50,000 manuscripts and 350,000 printed books. Because it is primarily a manuscript library and because its accommodations are inadequate to meet the demands of the general public, all readers who wish to consult only printed literature are excluded from the library. The manuscripts are divided into 16 open divisions or divisions subject to later accessions, and 36 closed divisions, or divisions which came to the library complete, and are separated according to the language of the manuscript. Here are to be found the majority of the manuscripts, from the convent at Bobbio, in the Middle Ages one of the richest collections in Europe. Here also are 3,000 manuscripts, brought to the Valican from Heidelberg in 1623 and called “Codices Palatini.” The last great addition was in 1856, when Pope Pius IX added 40,000 volumes that had belonged to Cardinal Mai, the discoverer of the lost manuscript of Cicero's ‘De Republica.’
The scientific management of ihe Vatican Library is entrusted to a prefect, who also has charge of a Pagan Museum, a Numismatic Collection and the Museo Cristiano. The last-named was separated for a time from the library management when the celebrated De Rossi was named prefect of the Museo, an honor intended only for him. Despite the small staff of the Library and its insufficient funds, it stands at the head of the libraries of the world in the number of its scientific publications.
Besides the Archives and the Library the Vatican possesses an astronomical observatory, a modern polyglot printing office, a collection of inscriptions and a collection of geographical charts. The Specola Vaticana consists of the Gregorian Tower and the Leonine Tower with a connecting passageway and has acquired considerable reputation for its measurement of astrographic plates, The Galleria Lapidaria contains no less than 6,000 inscriptions in stone and numerous other inscriptional remains. Closely identified with it was the celebrated Marini, one of the founders of Latin epigraphy.
There are several large state halls in the Vatican, including the Sala Regia (where the consistories are held), the Sala Ducale and the Sala Clementina, which are of great historical importance. The neighboring Basilica of Saint Peter is regarded as a part of the Vatican only when the Pope attends some solemn ceremony there. Since 1870 the Vatican has been considered extraterritorial and has consequently possessed its own military guardians, the Swiss Guards, and its own police, the gendarmes; before that time it came under the civil administration of the Papal States.
The importance of the Vatican, the administrative centre of the Catholic Church, was increased by the seizure of the Papal States and the consequent exclusive residence of the Pope in the Vatican. Business formerly transacted elsewhere, for instance, in the Lateran Palace, is now conducted here. It was here that the conclaves were held which elected Leo XIII, Pius X and Benedict XV to the papacy. It is here that the Papal Secretary of State receives the ambassadors and envoys accredited to the Holy See, so that all diplomatic affairs not transacted by correspondence are conducted in the Vatican. A number of the important Roman Congregations hold regular or special sessions in the Vatican. This concentration of administrative affairs in the Vatican inevitably follows the residence of the Pope there.
Bibliography. — Gregorovius, ‘History of Rome in the Middle Ages’ (English translation by Mrs. G. W. Hamilton); Pistolesi, ‘Il Vaticano descritto ed illustrato,’ noted for its profuse illustrations; Sladen, ‘How to See the Vatican,’ one of the best modern works in English; Potter, ‘The Art of the Vatican’; Murray, ‘Handbook to Rome’; Baumgarten, ‘Vatican,’ in ‘The Catholic Encyclopedia’; Kuhn, ‘Roma.’