The Vatican became a city-state on February 11, 1929. It has 900 citizens and 3000 employees, including 100 Swiss Guards. One third of the Vatican is covered in gardens. Facilities include: a helipad, train station, hotel, radio station and post office.
Over 60 popes are buried in the Basilica.
In 2003 the Vatican’s revenues totaled 203.6 million euros, with expenditures of 213 million euros. That year it made 9.2 million phone calls.
Pope Benedict XVI has his own well-established fan club (unofficial of course): www.ratzingerfanclub.com. Check out the merchandising from bierkeller mugs to ‘Papist’ baseball caps. In their advertising they even make a pitch to the kids:
“Just imagine when you stride into your class, Catechism in hand, and wearing your Ratzinger Fan Club t-shirt! Won’t your teacher be impressed?”
The pope even has his own email address firstname.lastname@example.org, but good luck on getting a reply!
The tavern opposite the house in Marktl am Inn where Joseph Ratzinger was born is doing brisk business with a specially created brew called: Pope Beer.
The pope’s license plate is SCV 1.
The first papacy supposedly began in April 30 A.D. when Jesus declared Simon Bar-Jona would be known as Peter (the rock upon which the church would be built). Peter’s successor was Linus.
In John Paul II’s last will and testament, he left no property behind except for the things he used daily, which he said should be ‘distributed as will seem opportune’. He also asked that his personal notes be burned. His last word was ‘amen’ said in response to a prayer. Apparently he wrote the address for Sunday’s General Audience on Saturday, 2nd April, the day he died.
The shortest pontificate was Urban VII’s 13 days in office. The longest was St Peter’s, who was pope for 37 years, followed by Pius IX, (32 years) and then by John Paul II’s. Five popes abdicated and nine were deposed. At least thirty-odd met a violent end.
There are some pretty unusual Patron Saints to pray to: St Vitus is the Patron saint against Oversleeping; St Mark is for Insect Bites; St Mathilda is for Misbehaving Children and St Clare is the Patron Saint of Television.
People called for ‘Santo Subito’ (Sainthood now) after John Paul II’s death. The last pope to be made a saint was Pius X (1903-1914) but before him, there was a huge gap back to Pius V (1566-1572), Inquisitor and excommunicator of England’s Elizabeth I. Out of 262 popes, around 80 were made saints.
In order to become a saint you have to have been dead for five years, lived a very holy life and be recognized for at least two posthumous miracles verified by the Vatican. Only one miracle and you only get beatification. Miracles are scrutinized scientifically. If they involve a cure, it must be instantaneous and complete (one candidate for sainthood was rejected because the blind man he helped had only 90% of his sight restored). The whole process can take centuries.
7% of the world’s population is Catholic. Brazil has the largest catholic population in the world. Iraq is 3% catholic whereas the Holy Land is only 2%.
Of the 117 cardinals in the conclave: 46 came from Western Europe, 21 from Latin America, 14 from North America, 12 from Eastern Europe, 11 each from Africa and Asia and 2 from Oceania. Italy is the country with most cardinal electors, numbering 20.
You can already order your copy of the ‘Nuns having Fun’ Calendar 2006. It features the lighter side of convent life: nuns surfing, high-kicking in a chorus line, riding toboggans etc.
In 2003, over 100,000 Catholics went to prison because of their faith.