Vatican is by far one of the most interesting and intriguing countries in the world. With a population of a few thousand citizens, this small country can still afford a multimillion dollar budget and house some of the richest histories of the entire globe.
Probably, the Vatican’s glamour is all but a factor of his holiness, the Pope, residing within the country. The Pope is one of the few celebrities of the world who don’t need to wear gold chains and tight jeans or skimpy dresses (nothing against any household names) so as to be famous. Why? Because he represents and heads what is by far the largest community in the world, The Catholic Church. With his fame, has also come lots of power. Numerous rumors and conspiracy theories have pointed out strong influence of the Pope on global governance. It is not a new thing. Some even go as far as claiming the supposed “new world order” is a design of the Pope himself!
But in all these, have you ever wondered whether the Vatican is an earthly heaven? That the Pope’s official home is nowhere related to controversy? Actually it is, and some of them are not only nasty, but also scary. So here we go, these are some of the secrets of the Vatican, the Pope will never talk about.
15. Vatican City has one of the highest crime rates in the world
Interestingly, statistics show that each person in the Vatican is associated with 1.5 crimes. This places Vatican City amongst the countries with the highest crime rates. So what’s happening? Are Cardinals standing next to the Pope by day, but next to a hand tied bank manager at night? Well, not really.
Vatican City attracts scores of tourists every year and these tourists attract their own “tourists”; precisely, pick pockets. Most of the crimes committed are related to pick pocketing and a few shop lifting incidences. Now, you may argue these are petty crimes but its still an infringement of the law, in one of the holiest places on earth. What makes it worse is that the entire country has only one judge, no functional prison and sentences given to offenders are quite mild.
But that doesn’t mean you can go scot free. What the judge sees as a serious offence is forwarded to the neighboring Italians for prosecution and in case you are found with drugs (as one chap was caught in his office with a few ounces of cocaine), the judge will not give you an easy time.
14. The worst confessions are from priests themselves
If you happen to sin, Catholic code provides that you go to the local bishop and confess your sins so as to receive redemption. Well, this is the scenario most of the time, not unless you commit any of the following sins: One, you break the seal of confession of Priests, Two, you offer confession to your own sexual partner and Three, you directly participate in an abortion and despite that, you are desirous of becoming a priest.
Let’s get one thing clear first, of the sins highlighted above, all of them can only be committed by a member of the clergy. And for such sins, the local bishop is not in power to handle the confessions and subsequent absolution. A special tribunal, known as the Apostolic Penitentiary, is tasked with handling these specific tasks. And here is the scary part, they have been meeting on and off for the past 830 years! And what’s worse? Their true operations are unknown and kept out of the public eye. Among the few things known so far about the tribunal is that the power to sentence a sinful priest is held only by the Major Penitentiary, Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro.
13. Demons are exorcised on an almost daily basis
Being the official residence of the Pope, one might expect people with the strangest cases of demonic attacks to head there. And that is quite accurate. According to the Church’s chief exorcist, about 300 demons are exorcised within the confines of his own office every year! But this work is not only done by him alone.
Pope John Paul II is accredited for having performed three exorcisms on his own during his reign. To step up the game, the Pope recently increased the rank of Catholic sponsored exorcists around the world. As a matter of fact, Italy alone has 350 exorcists actively operating within the region.
12. The Pope May Have Information on Extraterrestrial Life
This is one of the creepiest hidden truths of the Vatican. According to conspiracy theorists and a few people who have happened to go through the Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum (Vatican’s Secret Archives) the Vatican is well aware of the existence of extraterrestrials and some purport that the Pope is actually in communication with them.
The Vatican is well staffed with astronomers who spend hours, days and years observing the skies and rumor has it that they may have spotted external forms of life. But who knows? The 50+ miles of Vatican Secret archives are usually heavily guarded and the best people can do at the moment is guess.
11. The finest Swiss bodyguards are in the Vatican
Yes! The Vatican holds the finest of Swiss bodyguards, assigned to protect no one else but his holiness himself. Interestingly, the Pope has not been allied to the Swiss recently. The history goes back to 500 years ago, when Pope Julius II witnessed the Swiss fight ferociously in battles and win many of them. Famous for their mastery use of the Halberd, a dangerous weapon that incorporated an axe and a spear, the Swiss in the 1500s were capable of hammering down a legion of their enemies as if they were a few ponies waiting in line to be killed.
As it would be expected, the Pope went to the Swiss and won their allegiance, to the extent that some of them died on the line protecting Pope Clement VII from an invasion in Rome. To date, the guards assigned to the Pope are Swiss, masked in plain clothes but carrying the most modern weapons of today.
10. The Mafia and Vatican actually made a deal
If you have watched the The Godfather Part III, then you might remember the shady deal that the Vatican signed with the Mafia that subsequently led to the assassination of the Pope. Actually, there is word that this deal actually happened and was the inspiration for the whole movie.
On the 29th of September 1978, Pope John Paul I was found dead in his bed, only 33 days into his tenure. His death came not only with shock, but also many questions on the actual cause of his death. Word has it that the Pope was actually killed by the Mafia, and did not die due to some purported heart attack as claimed by the Vatican officials.
What’s fishy about all these developments into the Pope’s untimely death is that no autopsy was ever conducted. Secondly, the Vatican’s Bank President, Father Paul Marcinkus, resigned from his post after a series of scandals linked the bank to the Mafia. Some people went ahead to suspect Marcinkus was involved in the Pope’s death, though the lucky chap obtained diplomatic immunity and went to Arizona where he resided until his death.
9. Rome cut links with the Church of England over a divorce petition
The breaking of the Church of England from Rome was a historic move, but few got to know what really transpired before the break up.
According to the documents within the Secret Archives of the Vatican, Henry VIII requested that his marriage to his wife Catherine of Argon be annulled by Pope Clement VII. Sadly, Pope Clement VII denied this request. This led to Henry disobeying the Pope’s orders and still divorcing Catherine and marrying Anne Boleyn and four other women. This move created strong disputes which finally led to the Church of England breaking from Rome.
8. The unfair trial and execution of the Knights Templar involved the Pope
History has it that the Knights Templar, a prestigious and elite army, was disbanded and its members unfairly executed under the knowledge and silent watch of Pope Clement. It is documented that Philip IV of France saw this elite army as a Liability and in an effort to offset his financial debts, he ordered their arrest and subsequent torture which lasted for years before some gave in and agreed to their false charges, of Heresy to be precise, and were executed in accordance to the law.
So where does Pope Clement come into this? It is documented that he was aware of all these developments, and to the reprieve of those who believe in good, he tried to intervene. Sadly, Philip IV had his way (after coercing Pope Clement to condemn the knights) and the Knight Templar were tried and executed.
7. Vatican guards almost staged a strike over unpaid dues
Historical documents have revealed that Pope Julius II once received a letter warning him of industrial action to be staged by the guards over unpaid dues. As per the letter, the Vatican guards had endured three months without pay and were ready to down their tools (armors to be precise) if the Pope did nothing.
6. The Pope actually held power to set International boundaries
Those who have suggested for years that the Pope has powers to determine international diplomatic matters might have actually been onto something. On the 4th of May 1493, historical records reveal that Pope Alexander VI, based on the discovery of Christopher Columbus of a ‘New World”, issued a directive giving Spain control over lands 100 leagues away.
This in essence meant that the East of present day Brazil would have been under Portuguese control, leaving the rest of this “New World” to Spain. The Pope’s silent control over International matters has been a matter of heavy discussion for decades, and this may be just one of the proofs we need.
5. The idea of Mary being born “without sin” was conceived by a Pope
The Catholic Church views Mary as not only the Holiest Woman to ever exist on Earth, but also an intercessor who connects them to Christ and God. Most of their prayers are directed to her and all men and women are always encouraged to live her life.
Well, in case you didn’t know, the whole idea of Mary being born without sin was affirmed by a Pope, specifically Pope Pius IX on the 8th of December 1854. Well, all Christians believe that Mary was the mother of Jesus, but Catholics hold the strongest belief in Mary being originally born without sin, unlike all other men. At least now you know who put it officially to book.
4. A Brazilian priest actually designed a flying machine
The Vatican is undoubtedly blessed and it would have been absurd if some talents would have been missed from within the clergy. According to historical records, Bartolomeu Lourenco de Gusmao, a Brazillian priest, in the late 1600 and early 1700s spent his time studying flight. He specifically looked at how difference in densities would allow an object to float in the air.
What’s interesting is that this Brazilian priest actually made presentations before King John V of Portugal and prepared designs for a flying machine that was never built. Who knows, this guy could have been the first to take flight, before the Wright Brothers.
3. The Catholic Church strongly spoke against modern science
The Vatican uses modern technology heavily nowadays. Pope Benedict XVI for instance used text messages to communicate his activities to mobile subscribers across the world, all through his tenure. In 2009, the Vatican went ahead to open an official YouTube channel where they would broadcast Papal activities across the globe. But the fathers of modern day science never had it easy with the Vatican officials.
Galileo was amongst those scientists who the Vatican saw as an outcast and even charged him with heresy, a very serious crime at that time. Why? Galileo had just proposed that the sun was the actual centre of the universe, and not the Earth as purported by ancient text. Investigations, led by Pope Urban VIII, found Galileo guilty of heresy due to his claim, which Galileo argued had no serious implication to the underlying beliefs of the time. This was the beginning of many ensuing arguments that ultimately came to prove Galileo’s argument all along.
2. Some Popes never conducted important ceremonies during their tenure
There is one law that the Vatican has never changed; there can never be a Vice Pope. This ultimately means that no one can assume Papal duties, specifically relating to the conducting of ceremonies that only the Pope should preside over. So what the result of this?
Pope John Paul II, after unfortunately falling ill, had to boycott a couple of benedictions and masses due to his state. Common sense would dictate that a Cardinal would undertake his duties, but that would violate the laws relating to Papal duties. Since the Pope cannot be replaced unless he willingly resigns, his tenure ends if he dies in office. The entire Vatican has to wait for the Pope to recover before any of his duties can be resumed.
1. Vatican is largely run by tithes
It’s intriguing that one of the smallest nations in the world can have one of the largest budgets. Every wondered where Vatican gets it budget money from? Well, the Pope will probably not tell you this, but the country’s budget is funded by tithes from faithful across the globe.
It is estimated that the Vatican receives about $100 million yearly from donations from local parishes across the globe. But this is not the only source of wealth for this small country. Stamps, books, museums and souvenir shops also generate resources for this city. They also happen to have a magazine which contributes to the wealth being generated.
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