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Vatican Radio
Radio Vaticana
Radio Vaticana logo
First air date 1931
Format News, religious celebrations, in-depth programs, and music
Transmitter coordinates 41°54′14″N 12°27′0″E / 41.90389°N 12.45000°E / 41.90389; 12.45000Coordinates: 41°54′14″N 12°27′0″E / 41.90389°N 12.45000°E / 41.90389; 12.45000
Affiliations World Radio Network
Owner Vatican City
Website www.radiovaticana.va
Administration building and radio masts at Vatican City

Vatican Radio (Italian: ''Radio Vaticana'') is the official broadcasting service of the Vatican.

Set up in 1931 by Guglielmo Marconi, today its programs are offered in 47 languages, and are sent out on short wave (also DRM), medium wave, FM, satellite and the Internet. Since its inception, Vatican Radio has been maintained by the Jesuit Order. During World War II and the rise of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, Vatican Radio served as a source for news for the Allies as well as broadcasting pro-Allied (or simply neutral) propaganda.[citation needed] A week after Pope Pius XII ordered the programming, Vatican Radio broadcast to an unbelieving world that Poles and Jews were being rounded up and forced into ghettos.

Today, programming is produced by over two hundred journalists located in 61 different countries. Vatican Radio produces more than 42,000 hours of simultaneous broadcasting covering international news, religious celebrations, in-depth programs, and music. The current general director is Father Federico Lombardi, S.J.



Vatican Radio began broadcasting with the callsign HVJ[1] on two shortwave frequencies using 10 kilowatts (kW) of power on February 12, 1931, with the pontificial message "Omni creaturae" of Pope Pius XI.[2] Also in attendance was Guglielmo Marconi and Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who would become Pope Pius XII[2] Its first director was physicist Giuseppe Gianfranceschi, who was also the president of the Accademia dei Nuovi Lincei.

In 1933, a permanent microwave link was established between the Vatican Palace and the summer residence of the papacy, Castel Gandolfo.[2]

In 1936, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recognized Vatican Radio as a "special case" and authorized its broadcasting without any geographical limits. On December 25, 1937, a Telefunken 25 kW transmitter and two directional antennas were added. Vatican Radio broadcast over 10 frequencies.[2]

World War II[edit]

Following a December 1939 report from Cardinal August Hlond of Poznań detailing the oppression of the Catholic Church in Poland, Pope Pius XII decided, among other measures, to use Vatican Radio to provide "information regarding the condition of the church in Poland." The German broadcast on January 21, 1940, compared German activities to "what the Communists imposed on Spain in 1936."; the English service noted the attacks on the Church were not limited to the Soviets.[3]

During World War II, Vatican Radio's news broadcasts were (like all foreign broadcasts) banned in Germany. During the war, the radio service operated in four languages.

While some critics have said Pope Pius XII was too quiet regarding the Holocaust,[4] Adler has examined the transcripts of wartime broadcasts over the Vatican Radio. Adler argues that it exposed Nazi persecution of the Church and opposed collaboration with Nazism. It appealed to Catholics to remain true to their faith's injunctions: to defend the sanctity of life and the unity of humankind. In so doing the Pope pursued a policy of spiritual resistance to Nazi ideology and racism.[5]

1940s and 1950s[edit]

In 1948, services expanded to 18 languages.

Because of space purposes, the Holy See acquired a 400-hectare area located 18 kilometres north of Rome at Santa Maria di Galeria (GC: 42°2′39″N 12°19′22″E / 42.04417°N 12.32278°E / 42.04417; 12.32278). The Italian Republic granted the site extraterritorial status in 1952.[2]

In 1957, a new broadcasting center was placed into operation, with a Philips 100 kW shortwave transmitter, two 10 kW shortwave transmitters, and one 120 kW mediumwave transmitter, with 21 directional and one omnidirectional antenna. The next phase involved two 100 kW transmitters aimed at Africa and Oceania, a 250 kW mediumwave transmitter for Europe, and a 500 kW transmitter for the Far East and Latin America.[2]

Radio Vaticana was one of 23 founding broadcasting organisations of the European Broadcasting Union in 1950.


In May 2009, it was announced that Vatican Radio would begin broadcasting commercial advertisements for the first time in July. The decision was made so as to meet the radio's rising costs, namely 21.4m euros a year. All advertisements would have to meet "high moral standards".[6] Vatican Radio stopped transmitting short- and medium-wave broadcasts to North America, South America, and Europe on Sunday, July 1, 2012. The Vatican Press Office closed Vatican Information Service in August of 2012.[7]


During the 1930s, the station made experimental television broadcasts. However, apart from a brief experimental revival in the 1950s, it was not until the 1990s that a regular 'satellite' television service began. The programs of TV2000 include programming from Vatican Television Center.


The signals are transmitted from a large shortwave and medium-wave transmission facility for Radio Vatican. The Santa Maria di Galeria Transmitter was established in 1957 and it is an extraterritorial area in Italy belonging to the Holy See. Vatican Radio's interval signal is a well-known sound on shortwave radio.

The most interesting aerial is the one for the medium wave frequency 1530 kHz, which consists of four 94 metre high grounded free standing towers arranged in a square, which carry wires for a medium wave aerial on horizontal crossbars. The direction of this aerial can be changed.[8]

Radiation controversy[edit]

Main article: Vatican Radio lawsuit

The Santa Maria di Galeria transmitter site is the subject of a dispute between the station and some local residents who claim the non-ionising radiation from the site has affected their health[9] and a study by cancer specialist Dr. Andrea Micheli has suggested that electromagnetic radiation from the antennas has caused excess risk of leukaemia and lymphomas in children.[10] These claims are not accepted by the station.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matelski, Marilyn J.. Vatican Radio: Propagation by the Airwaves. 1995, Praeger. ISBN 0-275-94760-2
  2. ^ a b c d e f Levillain 2002: 1600
  3. ^ Blet 1999: 74-75
  4. ^ Frank J. Coppa, "Pope Pius XII: From the Diplomacy of Impartiality to the Silence of the Holocaust," Journal of Church and State (2013) 55#2 pp 286-306.
  5. ^ Jacques Adler, "The 'Sin of Omission'? Radio Vatican and the anti-Nazi Struggle, 1940–1942," Australian Journal of Politics & History (2004) 50#3 pp 396-406.
  6. ^ "Vatican Radio to air advertising", BBC, May 26, 2009
  7. ^ http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1202454.htm
  8. ^ General view of the Santa Maria di Galeria transmitter site.
  9. ^ Vatican Radio officials charged - in case concerning the electromagnetic force of radio transmitters - Brief Article from BNet
  10. ^ Report in La Repubblica newspaper


  • Blet, Pierre. Pius XII and the Second World War: According to the Archives of the Vatican. Translated by Lawrence J. Johnson. 1999, Paulist Press. ISBN 0-8091-0503-9
  • Levilliain, Philippe. The Papacy: An Encyclopedia. Translated by John O'Malley. Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-92228-3
  • Matelski, Marilyn J. Vatican Radio: Propagation by the Airwaves. 1995, Praeger ISBN 0-275-94760-2

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_Radio — Please support Wikipedia.
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