In 1929, Benito Mussolini signed for the State, and Pietro Gasparri, Cardinal Secretary, for Pope Pius XII, the Lateran Pacts that resolved the question of the role of the Catholic Church within the secular Italian State - basically, the territories the Church would retain, financial reimbursement for property seized in the revolution, the Church as the State church. That question had been pending since the "Risorgimento," or the overtaking of most of Italy by the non-Papal forces, in 1870. And, since that time the Popes had not come out of the Vatican, a self-imposed incarceration.
The Conciliation - commemorated by Via della Conciliazione, which leads from the Tevere to St. Peter's - is also known as the Lateran Pacts, because the agreement was signed in the Lateran church: San Giovanni in Laterano. (We had always thought they were signed in Piazza della Pigna, where there is a plaque to that effect. Perhaps Il Duce and Gasparri negotiated aspects of the Pacts in that quiet piazza, in which sits a restaurant we have frequented.)
|Perhaps more interesting.|
the fasci, representing the Mussolini government, and 3) SPQR, the ancient Rome's government acronym, adopted by Mussolini to tie his Fascist regime to ancient Rome.
The coats of arms at the top likely are older ones that were placed here. The Papal one on the left is of the Barberini Pope (see the bees), Urban VIII (1623-44), and the State one on the right is for the King of Savoy.
Finally we leave you with the grand double archway below, looking from the outside into the Bernini colonnade. Here the multi-layered blocks and symbols appear to have both Papal and Fascist dating. There is a reference to Pius IV (IIII), a Medici (note the balls in the coat of arms in the photo at the top of the post), who in the early 1500s built the now destroyed Porta Angelica, to welcome pilgrims from the north. It was at Porta Angelica in 1849 that Garibaldi and his troops made their first forays into Rome to take over the city from the Popes.
So perhaps the Vatican is extracting a sense of justice. We have a gate (think exit) built after the 1929 Conciliation to acknowledge the Vatican territory and let out the Popes for the first time in almost 60 years. But on that gate, the Vatican has placed highly symbolic parts of the 1500s Porta Angelica, the gate where at one time (1849) anti-Papal forces forcefully challenged the rule of the Popes; and the Popes won that battle. Garibaldi's forces won about 20 years later: 1870. While I disagree with him, David Kertzer, in his book Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes, the Kings, and Garibaldi's Rebels in the Struggle to Rule Modern Italy, takes the position that even though Garibaldi won the battle for Rome in 1870, eventually the Popes won the war, in the sense that the Catholic Church has religious (albeit not state) dominion over more than 1 billion people. In any event, in these grand arches and gateways, the Popes are making their point: we're still here.