Happy Birthday, Vatican City!

VATICAN CITY — Mark your calendars. On Feb. 11, Vatican City State turns 80 years old.

To celebrate, the commission governing Vatican territory is presenting a special exhibition that will open Feb. 12 in the Vatican’s Braccio di Carlo Magno in St. Peter’s Square.

The show will document the birth and development of the world’s smallest country after the Lateran Pacts were signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Gasparri and Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini on Feb. 11, 1929.

Among the many interesting and notable objects at the show will be the actual accord from the Vatican Secret Archives, making it the first time the original treaty will be on public display.

An early engraving of the layout of Vatican City (CNS photo courtesy of Vatican Library)

An early engraving of the layout of Vatican City (CNS photo courtesy of Vatican Library)

There will also be a scale model made out of birch wood of the 108-acre Vatican City State and the magnificent miter of Pope Pius XI who oversaw the building of the state’s new infrastructure during his 1922-1939 pontificate.

Car lovers will enjoy the one-of-a-kind Citroen “Lictoria” parked at the show. It was specially made for Pope Pius XI and has a throne in the back seat.

In other news…

The Vatican said its Web site vaticanstate.va has gotten over 150 million hits since its inception last year.

And beginning Dec. 24, a new webcam was hooked up to offer Internet users a sneak peek of the pope’s gardens at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

The garden-cam joins the previous five webcams pointed at: St. Peter’s Square; the basilica’s dome; the headquarters of the commission that governs Vatican territory; and Pope John Paul II’s tomb.

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