Local traditions and culture in Vatican City

  • At the church exit
    At the church exit
    by fairy_dust
  • Cute Swiss guards
    Cute Swiss guards
    by fairy_dust
  • Lined up
    Lined up
    by fairy_dust

Most Viewed Local Customs in Vatican City

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    habemus papam

    by GentleSpirit Written Mar 13, 2013

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    Habemus papam (we have a pope) are the words announced when the conclave has decided on a new Pope.

    Each day during the conclave you would watch the chimney, black smoke means that no successor has been agreed on yet, white smoke means a new pope has been chosen.

    Today the conclave made history. The first Pope of the Catholic Church from South America, Jorge Mario Bergolio of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Adelante Papa Fransisco!!

    Pope Francis I    (courtesy Wikipedia) Coat of Arms of Pope Francis (@Wikipedia)
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    Papal Coat of Arms

    by GentleSpirit Updated Mar 4, 2013

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    On just about any building or sculpture in Rome and the Vatican you will see the papal coat of arms of the Pope that financed or sponsored that work.

    This practice started more or less in the 13th century. You can recognize the papal coats of arms immediately because above the family crest is the papal tiara and a key. The key is symbolic of the keys of Peter, mentioned in the Bible (Matthew 16:19). This is symbolic of the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

    For those of you interested in heraldry, here is a link that gives you an idea of the symbolism in coats of arms.
    http://www.oshel.com/symbols.htm

    Which pope is this from?
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    If you speak Latin

    by GentleSpirit Updated Dec 12, 2012

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    The Vatican is, of course, entirely within the city of Rome. But it is also the only country in the world that officially speaks Latin. So, finally, those of you who had to labor long hours to try to master Latin in High School or college, you'll have your chance to shine.

    I can read some Latin, but I can't distinguish it very well from Italian, especially when it is spoken. Thankfully, it wasn't hard to find someone who spoke English or Spanish. Though the official language of the Vatican is Latin, I hear that Italian is far more commonly used. You should have no real language problems in the Vatican.

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    Want to contact the Vatican Gift Shop?

    by Beausoleil Written Nov 30, 2011

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    Here is the e-mail address given on their web site. info@vaticangift.com

    It looks like they only sell religious articles online and the e-mail contact also specifies interest in a religious article. I suspect the scarves and other souvenir-type things are just brought into the shop for tourists.

    Here are the address, phone and fax numbers so you can try to contact them.

    Vatican Gift di Sonya Lombardi
    Via Marianna Dionigi, 43
    Italy 00193 Rome
    Phone: +39 (0)6 322 57 31
    Fax: +39 (0)6 322 57 31

    If you haven't phoned Italy before, here are instructions from the USA.
    To call an Italian phone number from the US or Canada, dial as follows:
    · first dial the US long distance code 011
    · then the country code (39 for Italy)
    · then the city code (do not drop the leading zero)
    · then the number

    Good luck.

    St. Peters in Vatican City Swiss Guard at the Vatican
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    The Vatican Newspaper

    by Manara Updated Sep 25, 2011

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    The Vatican has its own journal: “L’osservatore romano” (The Roman Observer) a daily newspaper with six issues per week (no issue on Mondays, to let the staff rest on Sudays). The journal has also a weekly edition in several languages: Italian, German, French, English, Polish, Spanish and Portuguese. It is available also online.
    Why is it not called “L’osservatore Vaticano”? Because when it was founded, in 1861, Rome was still the capital city of the Church Kingdom, so when Rome was conquered in 1870 and the Church Kingdom was reduced to the small area of the Vatican, the journal kept its name.
    In the picture you see a copy of the weekly edition. Normally I do not read it, but I happened to find this copy in the business lounge of an airport.

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    Queue ing for.......................

    by unravelau Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    St. Peters is huge. I knew that it was huge before I left Australia but the thought that hadn't crossed my mind was.............'if I join a queue, will I know what I am going to see at the top of it?' There seemed to be queues going everywhere and I thought that well it must be something special. Halfway through the queue and shuffle time I determined that I must be in the queue to see one of the saints burial places?? Along the way and maybe to fill in time we faltered at this statue and bent over to ?.......... as it came to my turn, I realised that we were to kiss the foot of this statue. His foot has melted into the marble base having been kissed a few million times (I'm guessing). I looked around like a lost sheep and joined another queue. It seemed like hours of queues......and was in fact but I did get to my destination eventually.

    UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE

    The melted foot was/is that of St Peter - one of the most amazing things that I have ever seen ...... don't miss it.

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    Swiss Guards

    by alza Updated Sep 17, 2010

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    English name: Pontifical Swiss Guard

    Original name: Guardia Svizzera Pontificia - Cohors Pedestris Helvetiorum a Sacra Custodia Pontificis

    I saw one Swiss Guard from up close, by the Porta Angelica. He was in regular duty uniform, that is, a simple, solid blue version of the tri-colour grand gala uniform.
    He had a brown belt, flat white collar, and the black beret worn on daily duty.

    (The morion helmet is reserved for ceremonial.)

    In bad weather, the guards wear a dark blue cape over their uniform.

    This guy had style, just look at the way he stands! but then, they all have style.

    Regular duty, classic pose Grand gala dummy sans morion with morion helmet, fm Wikipedia

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    Annual NEW YEAR'S DAY CELEBRATION

    by icunme Updated Nov 3, 2009

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    Every year, tens of thousands gather in St. Peter's Square, filling the streets with pageantry and music, to celebrate and receive the Pope's New Year's Day blessing. A focal point of Rome's holiday season and the Pope's Worldwide Day of Peace, the Rome New Year's Parade celebrates life, cultural diversity and international good-will.

    In keeping with the Italian tradition, enthusiastic spectators fall into step alongside the bands as they proceed from the grand Via della Conciliazione and culminates in St. Peter's Square.

    Photo from website
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    Visiting chapel at St. Peter's Basilica

    by hopang Updated Aug 10, 2009

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    The chapel inside St. Peter's Basilica can be visited by locals, members of the public and foreign tourists. However when we visit a chapel inside St. Peter's Basilica especially the Chapel of the Choir which is located near the entrance to St. Peter's Basilica, we have to take off our hats or caps, keep silent or keep our voice down to show respect to the chapel and to the locals and foreign visitors who pray in silence in the chapel. Dress code also applies for entering the chapel as well as St. Peter's Basilica. Nevertheless we could not remember whether photography and video recording is permitted inside the chapel!

    Chapel of San Sebastian
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    Exorcism lessons exist

    by icunme Updated Jul 22, 2009

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    (newspaper account - ref news.telegraph) It is a devil of a job but someone has to do it. Applications are invited for exorcism training at the Vatican's Rome university, the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum.
    "Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation" is the 10-week course including sessions in exorcism rites, how to talk to the Devil, the tricks he uses to fight back and signs of the occult hidden in rock music and video games.
    Students also attend classes in psychology so that priests can distinguish between "real cases" of satanic possession and illnesses such as schizophrenia.

    The recruitment drive comes amid growing Vatican concern about a rise in Satanism. Pope Benedict XVI this week praised 180 of the students gathered at a secret location outside Rome.

    "I encourage you to continue your important ministry in the services of the Church," the new Pope told them, saying their work would be closely supported by local bishops.

    Niklaus M Deutsch's
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    Urbi et orbi

    by croisbeauty Updated Oct 12, 2008

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    If in Rome on the first of January all roads lead to Piazza San Pietro, for both locals and tourists. It isn't important to which congregation one belongs, there on that day you can meet people from all over the world. On that day there is a huge crowd, heterogeneous but united and full of joy. Everybody is coming to hear the Pope and his words of hope and peace. On that day and spot I felt like sharing brotherhood with all the people from the entire world.

    The Pope

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    Swiss Guards

    by stevemt Updated Sep 4, 2008

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    The Swiss Guards who guard the Vatican are all Swiss Nationals, and supposedly wear a uniform designed by Michaelangelo.

    Recruits to the guards need to be Catholic, single males with Swiss citizenship who have completed basic training with the Swiss military and can obtain certificates of good conduct. New recruits must have a professional diploma or high school degree and must be between 19 and 30 years of age and at least 174 cm (5'9") tall.

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    Vatican police

    by croisbeauty Updated Jan 19, 2008

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    Of course, there excist no police in Vatican, no need for them here in this holy place except to keep order if somebody with no manners try to disrespect long line of people who wait to enter into the St. Peter's Church or Vatican Museum.

    local police of Rome in service on St. Peter's Squ

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    The lady with the prairie oysters :-)

    by ATLC Updated Dec 2, 2007

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    A statue in the Vatican museum, standing in a niche just about opposite the entrance to the Egyptian rooms. It looks like a fertility goddess, although at the time I didn't think those things hanging off her were breasts. On either of her upper arms sit two small lions. And on her dress are all bulls with either two breasts or their paws sticking out, I don't know. On her collar are what look like spooky ghosts, with bulls heads and breasts too.

    I thought no more of it, until VT member craic posted a question about well-rubbed statues. To which sirgaw replied, describing this statue, saying: "In the Vatican Museum is a statue of a woman who at first glance seems to have about 20 boobs, however we were told they are bulls testicles. Legend has it that if a woman wants to get pregnant, she is supposed to walk around the statue 3 times. To stop all this "unseemly conduct" the good folks at the Vatican Museum have placed the statue against a wall so no one can walk around it. Now is that the reason the birth rate in Italy is so low - LOL"

    Statue in the Vatican Museum
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    Swiss guards

    by fairy_dust Written Aug 20, 2007

    When leaving St. Peter's Basilica, you might see some Swiss guards in their medieval uniforms by the exit. This "army" has been protecting the pope for centuries and they still wear the same costumes, use the same weapons, etc as they did back in the olden days. You're allowed to take pictures, but don't expect to pose with them - the two that I saw were young and quite cute so I would have loved a pic of myself standing between them (hehehe... I'm so boy crazy!), but they wouldn't let anyone come close.

    Among the necessary requirements for being a Swiss guard are Swiss citizenship (obviously!), speaking Italian fluently, and being a practicing Catholic. They swear allegiance to the pope, and I think they actually live in Vatican City (as opposed to Rome).

    Cute Swiss guards At the church exit Lined up
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