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Vatican City , officially Vatican City State (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano; Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae), is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from, yet under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes). With an area of 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.
The Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state (a type of theocracy) ruled by the pope who is the bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. Since the return of the popes from Avignon in 1377, they have generally resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.
The Institute for Works of Religion (Italian: Istituto per le Opere di Religione - IOR), commonly known as the Vatican Bank, is a privately held institute located inside Vatican City run by a professional bank CEO who reports directly to a committee of cardinals, and ultimately to the Pope (or the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church during a sede vacante). Since its assets are not considered property of the Holy See, it is not overseen by the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and it is listed in the Annuario Pontificio together with foundations such as the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, which provides funds for training people to fight drought and desertification in nine African countries. The current President is Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.
The Institute was involved in a major political and financial scandal in the 1980s, concerning the 1982 $3.5 billion collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, of which it was a major shareholder. The head of IOR from 1971 to 1989, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, was under consideration for indictment in 1982 in Italy as an accessory of the bankruptcy; however, he was never brought to trial due to the Italian courts' ruling that the priest, being a high-ranking prelate of the Vatican, had diplomatic immunity from prosecution.
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter (Latin: Basilica Sancti Petri), officially known in Italian as Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City.
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A post-restoration section of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which includes the two panels reproduced above.
The restoration of the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel was one of the most significant art restorations of the 20th century. The Sistine Chapel was built by Pope Sixtus IV within the Vatican immediately to the north of St. Peter's Basilica and completed in about 1481. Its walls were decorated by a number of Renaissance painters who were among the most highly regarded artists of late 15th century Italy, including Ghirlandaio, Perugino, and Botticelli. The Chapel was further enhanced under Pope Julius II by the painting of the ceiling by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 and by the painting of the Last Judgment, commissioned by Pope Clement VII and completed in 1541, again by Michelangelo. The tapestries on the lowest tier, today best known from the Raphael Cartoons (painted designs) of 1515–16, completed the ensemble.
Together the paintings make up the greatest pictorial scheme of the Renaissance. Individually, some of Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling are among the most notable works of western art ever created. The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and in particular the ceiling and accompanying lunettes by Michelangelo have been subject to a number of restorations, the most recent taking place between 1980 and 1994. This most recent restoration had a profound effect on art lovers and historians, as colours and details that had not been seen for centuries were revealed.