The world's smallest country, is home to the Pope and the Catholic church
Vatican city came to prominence after Catholic Christianity became the official and state religion of the Roman Empire. In 326, the first church, the Constantinian basilica, was built over the site that is alleged to be the tomb of Saint Peter. Peter was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus himself.
The city remained the seat of Popes and thereby the capital of Papacy. Despite all the changes, conquests the Pope's seat remained unaffected until 1871 when Rome was declared the capital of the newly-born Italian nation and question arose over Pope's holdings in Rome.
The question was solved only in 1929, during Mussolini's reign, by a treaty known as the Lateran Pact. The pact was signed between the Italian government and the Pope (the Catholic Church), guaranteeing the Church's sovereignty, thereby giving birth to the country Vatican City. The treaty also declared Catholicism as Italy's official religion.
Vatican City remained neutral throughout World War II. Although Germans occupied Rome in the early stages of the war, they never occupied the Vatican City. Throughout the war, Pope Pius XII exerted his influence to ensure that Rome was not bombed by either sides. However, during the Italian campaign of 1944, allied planes bombed some parts of Rome and Vatican City. As Italian planes had participated in the blitz over the UK, British public opinion remained in favour of bombing Rome, however the US remained strongly opposed to the idea due to the high number Catholic immigrants on US soil and Catholic soldiers among its army ranks. Thus, Germany and Britain remain the only two countries to have bombed the Vatican city during World War II.
In this photo: A general view of St. Peter square where Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the canonization ceremony in St. Peter square at the Vatican October 12, 2008. Reuters