This film is part of Free

Vatican City

The inner-workings of the world’s smallest state were shown to filmgoers for the very first time in this lively and revealing portrait of the Vatican of Pope Pius XII.

Documentary 1940 18 mins


March of Time's revealing portrait of the Vatican of Pope Pius XII. This compelling picture of civil and ecclesiastical life in the world’s smallest independent state goes behind the scenes to reveal not just the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican library, the Basilica of St Peter and the tombs of former pontiffs in the crypts, but also the post office, the radio station (founded by Marconi) and the Vatican’s only bar, where the most popular drinks at the time were lemonade and coffee.

March of Time producer Richard de Rochment secured permission for cameramen Jean Page and Marcel Ribiere to shoot inside the Vatican and the pair were allowed unprecedented access to create this film. Blending a historical overview with an emphasis on a modernising and outward ­looking Papacy, the film shows the power of mass media, in the shape of the Vatican radio and the daily newspaper Osservatore Romano, to carry the pontiff’s views - ­ ‘militant against Communism and Nazism’ - ­ to a world at war.