Magazine Sneak Peek: 10 Things You Don't Know about the Vatican!

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7days.gifVatican City has fewer than 1,000 citizens and spans only 110 acres. But what actually goes on behind the scenes? From a library full of red tape (it's the original red tape!) to the Pope's Swiss bodyguards, there are all sorts of things we didn't know about the Vatican. Here are 2 of our favorites:

Regular Exorcise

Baudelaire once said that "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn't exist." But in modern-day Vatican City, the devil isn't fooling anyone. The former Pope John Paul II personally performed three exorcisms during his reign, and the current Pope Benedict XVI is expanding the ranks of Catholic-sponsored exorcists throughout the world. In fact, Father Gabriele Amorth, the Church's chief exorcist, claims to expel more than 300 demons a year from the confines of his Vatican office, and there are more than 350 exorcists operating on behalf of the Catholic Church in Italy alone. Amorth also teaches bishops how to tell the difference between satanic possession and psychiatric illness, noting that those who suffer from the former seem to be particularly repulsed by the sight of holy water and the cross.

Even the ATMs Are in Latin

The Vatican Bank is the only bank in the world that allows ATM users to select Latin to perform transactions. That's just one symbol of the Holy See's continued devotion to the language. Pope Benedict XVI has been particularly passionate about reviving the language and purportedly holds many informal conversations in Latin. (Pope John Paul II generally spoke Polish.)
The Vatican's Latin Foundation tries to keep the language relevant by translating modern phrases into the ancient tongue. In 2003, they released an updated dictionary that included the terms "rush hour" (tempus maximae frequentiae) and "dishwasher" (escariorum lavatory). Interestingly, the translations can have serious consequences. A recent U.S. lawsuit was brought against the Vatican for conspiring to protect a child-molesting priest, and it was held up for months as the Church's experts rejected the prosecuting team's Latin translations of terms such as "conspiracy to commit fraud."

Curious what the other 8 items on the list are? Then pick up the new issue of mental_floss magazine here. Or take advantage of our newest offer and pick up a t-shirt with your subscription for just a couple of dollars more. 

April 13, 2009 - 6:12am
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