1. The Vatican post office issues passports
2. Italians can donate 8% of their annual taxes directly towards the Vatican instead of paying the tax to the government
3. There are secret tunnels and passageways underneath the Vatican
In 1527 the tunnels helped save Pope Clement VII’s life during an attack on Rome. Emperor Charles V sent troops through Rome to murder priests, monks and nuns. But the Swiss Guard protected the Pope and gave him just enough time to escape.
4. The Museums at the Vatican have the largest art collection in the world
You can walk along the halls of the museum for almost nine miles. Four million people are estimated to visit the museum ever year. Featured artists include da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo.
5. St. Peter’s Basilica is the biggest Catholic church in the world
The Basilica takes up over 5 acres and can hold well over 60,000 people.
6. The Vatican has a national football (soccer) team
Father Benedict said, “The sport of football can be a vehicle of education for the values of honesty, solidarity and fraternity, especially for the younger generation.”
7. The Vatican owns a telescope in Arizona
It’s operated by the Vatican Observatory, which is one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world.
8. Saints are buried on St. Peter’s Basilica – including Saint Peter himself
The basilica, which began construction in the 1500s is built over the catacombs and the suspected grave site of Saint Peter.
9. The Vatican is the smallest country in the world
The whole country is only about 1/8 of the size of Central Park in New York!
10. Vatican City has about 800 citizens – 135 who are Swiss Guards