Vatican City (Holy See)

Monetary System


Circulating Coins
Lira, parity with Italian rate

Zecca dello Stato Italiano - Roma

Lira: 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 bimetallic
500 silver, 1000 silver, 10000 silver
50000 gold, 100000 gold
On January 1, 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by the financial institutions of member countries; Three years later, on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions with the member countries and The Vatican City replaced its national currency
Borders Italy 3.2 km
Economy Population: 932 (July 2006 est.)

Covering an area of 44 hectares (109 acres) and with about 500 inhabitants, the "Vatican City State" (Stato della Citt? del Vaticano) is the smallest state in the world. Its territory is enclosed by the urban area of Rome. Vatican City is home not only to the Pope's residence, but also to one of the world's finest art collections and the famous Vatican archives. The Vatican's form of government is an elective monarchy with the Pope as head of state. His official title is "Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of Vatican City State, Servant of the Servants of God". The inauguration day of the reigning pope is celebrated as national holiday.

The name Vatican is derived from the Latin "mons vaticanus", a hill on the right bank of the Tiber. This is where the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle has been venerated since the second century. Shortly after AD 320, Emperor Constantine ordered the construction of a basilica at the supposed location of the tomb. Following various structural alterations, the cornerstone of a completely new building was laid 500 years ago on 18 April 1506 under Pope Julius II (1503-1513). After over 100 years of construction, Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644) dedicated the church building in a special ceremony in 1626. St. Peter's Basilica is the largest ecclesiastical building in Christendom and the centre of the Roman Catholic Church.

Popes in their secular role ruled portions of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid 19th century, when many of the Papal States were seized by the newly united Kingdom of Italy. In 1870, the pope's holdings were further circumscribed when Rome itself was annexed. Disputes between a series of "prisoner" popes and Italy were resolved in 1929 by three Lateran Treaties, which established the independent state of Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. In 1984, a concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified certain of the earlier treaty provisions, including the primacy of Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion. Present concerns of the Holy See include religious freedom, international development, the Middle East, terrorism, interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, and the application of church doctrine in an era of rapid change and globalization. About 1 billion people worldwide profess the Catholic faith.

A history lesson

The properties of the Vatican came from the endowments given to the Church from the 4th century in Rome mainly, called the Patrimony of St. Peter at the beginning and transformed in the duchy of Rome in the following, with an increasingly independence from the Eastern emperors. The formal constitution of the Papal States took place in 754 when Pepin the Short gave to Pope Stephen II the exarchate of Ravenna and the Pentapolis. This event was connected to the alliance between Pope Stephen II and Pepin, who was recognized as rightful king of the Franks and gave to the Pope assistance against the Lombards. In 774, Charlemagne confirmed the donation of Pepin the Short and to stronger the temporal power of the Popes, the so-called Donation of Constantine to Pope Sylvester I was forged.

The popes' temporal power was greatly limited in the following centuries by the power of the emperors and the noblemen, with a resulting very bad condition of the population. From 1309 to 1417 Avignon became the seat of the popes, with the Papal States in a chaotic condition up to the 16th century, when the States got its maximum extension with the campaigns of Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, and Pope Julius II.

After the Counter Reformation the political power of the papacy waned and the Papal troops offered almost no resistance to the French invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796. The Congress of Vienna fully restored the states of the papacy in 1815 and placed them under Austrian protection. Conspiracies and revolutions characterized the following decades up to the Risorgimento in 1860, when the French intervention prevented the inclusion of Rome in the new Kingdom of Italy. The fall of Napoleon III permitted to Victor Emmanuel II to seize Rome in 1870. However, Pius IX refused to recognize the new Italian State. The so-called Roman Question was only resolved in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty, which established State of the Vatican City.

Pontifical mintage

Pontifical mintage has a very old and interesting history, going back to the 8th century A.D.

Papal minting of coins started in the eighth century under Hadrian I and was then repeatedly interrupted or only carried out in cooperation with the Emperor. After the Lateran Treaty between the Italian Government and the Holy See signed on February 11, 1929, which instituted Vatican City State, we find the first issue of coins minted by the new born State, under the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. Throughout its history, the Vatican has never issued any banknotes as an independent state. Like San Marino and Monaco, the Vatican does not print any euro banknotes either. The coinage of coins from the Vatican is strictly related to the temporal power of the Popes and the designs often include biblical themes.

From 1995, the Mint of Rome began to realize a six-years Special Numismatic Programme, titled: "Towards the Holly Year 2000". This Programme consisting of two proof condition silver coins each year, set in an elegant case, 10000 lira face value each, represents the most important events of Jesus Christ's life; In 2001, even if the Vatican City is a state which do not belong to the Economic and Monetary Union, it was granted the right to mint their own euro coins, as for the Republic of San Marino, by virtue of their long-standing monetary agreements with the Italian government.

  • 1995 "The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin" and "The Nativity";
  • 1996 "The Baptism in the River Jordan" and "Jesus the Teacher";
  • 1997 "The Calming of the Storm" and "Cure of a Paralytic";
  • 1998 "The Last Supper" and "The Crucifixion";
  • 1999 "The Resurrection" and "The Pentecost";

Uncirculated Mint Set (9 coins), the obverse (32Kb) and reverse (30Kb) of the coins.

For further information, contact the Vatican Numismatic Office, Governatorato, 00120 Vatican City, Vatican City State. Telephone: 0039 6 6988 3165, Fax: 0039 6 6988 3799