By virtue of its Statute, Vatican Radio is the broadcasting station of the Holy See, legally based in the Vatican City State. It is a mean of communication and evangelization created to serve the Pope’s Ministry. It was established by Guglielmo Marconi and inaugurated by Pius XI (Radio message Qui arcano Dei) on February 12th 1931.
The main task of Vatican Radio is to proclaim the Christian message freely, faithfully and efficiently and keeping the centre of Catholicism in contact with the different countries of the world by:
- diffusing the voice and the teachings of the Roman Pontiff;
- informing about the activities of the Holy See;
- giving information about the life and the activities of the Catholic Church in the world;
- helping the faithful to evaluate today’s problems in the light of the Teachings of the Church.
Vatican Radio gives advice and cooperation to Dioceses or Bishops’ Conferences in the field of radio broadcasting sector.
Vatican Radio has also the institutional task to record, amplify, and distribute the sound of all the official Vatican activities of the Holy Father and to exercise and protect, in an exclusive way, the copyright and intellectual property rights over the voice recordings of the Roman Pontiffs.
Fr. Federico Lombardi S.I. is the Director General of Vatican Radio since November 5th, 2005..
Vatican Radio is an active member and founder of the EBU (European Broadcasting Union). It is also a member of the UAR (Union Africaine de Radiodiffusion) and is part of the World Catholic Association for Communication SIGNIS, of the European Conference of Christan Radios CERC and of the Community of Radios and Televisions broadcasting in Italian.
In the radiophonic sector, Vatican Radio represents the Holy See – Vatican City State to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) and ITSO (International Telecommunications Satellite Organization).
Vatican Radio broadcasts worldwide its programs using 45 languages by the following technical means: Internet (www.radiovaticana.va), Satellite (Eutelsat Hot Bird 13° E [Europe], Intelsat AOR [Atlantic] – IS 801 – 328,5° E), and obviously through hertzian waves (FM – modulation frequency, medium and short waves. The FM service are analogue and digital: DAB digital technologies):
Europe: Eutelsat Hot Bird 13°E
Atlantic: Intelsat AOR–IS 801– 328,5°E
FM – frequency modulation
Android, iOS e Windows Phone.
Vatican Radio broadcasts in 45 languages and is part of an intensive radios network that all over the world rebroadcast Vatican Radio programmes upon prior agreement of the General Management. This belong to an old tradition of services and technical assistance that Vatican Radio offers to other radios (public, local, catholic or not).
Vatican Radio also assures the broadcasting, diffusion and distribution of international sound (with or without commentary in different languages)of all Pope’s cerimonies (General Audience, Sunday Angelus, pontifical ceremonies or major events). Vatican Radio has the institutional task to record, amplify and distribute the sound of all the Pope public activities.
The International Relations Office is charged with overseeing these interrelationships, which might call for providing technical and editorial assistance to journalists and technicians on assignment abroad, or offering international exchanges of different radio programmes ( religious, cultural, musical or news).
For further contacts: International Relations Office.
Vatican Radio broadcasts its programs in the five continents not only directly, but also through numerous radio stations (in the year 2007 they were about 1000) situated in many countries. Vatican Radio has concluded agreements for the broadcast of its programs with national public radios and some commercial radios. However, most of the broadcasters which retransmit our programs are Catholic or Christian radios. These radios may operate as a single broadcaster or as a part of a network of radios. Thanks to the essential contribution of these stations, Vatican Radio can capillary cover some areas of the world.
The radio stations rebroadcasting Vatican Radio’s programmes on a regular contractual basis, agreed upon with the General Direction, are located in the following countries:
Albania, Austria, Bosnia ed Erzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Polond, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine, Hungary.
Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Réunion, South Africa, Sudan, Chad, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Asia and Oceania:
Philippines, Japan, Lebanon, Australia, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia.
Vatican Radio offers various services to radio stations available in a special section of Vatican Radio’s website Radio4Radios (“the Radio for the Radios”). Among these services, first of all there is the possibility to rebroadcast the programs of Vatican Radio by means of the modalities indicated below.
The rebroadcasting of Vatican Radio’s Programs must be authorized by the General Direction – International Relations Office. Those radio stations which are interested in rebroadcasting such programs have to address their request to email@example.com or fax number +39 06 6988 3237 (Mr. Giacomo Ghisani, Head of International Relations, tel. number +39 06 6988 3945). Following this request, the radio stations receive a simple, standard agreement to be signed in order to formalize the cooperation with Vatican Radio.
Vatican Radio doesn’t operate on a commercial basis given its particular nature to be at the service of the Papal Ministry and Divine Word: for this reason, we always try to put our programmes at the disposal of Catholic radio stations without burdening upon their limited economic possibilities. However, since the production of the programs represent a significant and important economic cost for the Holy See, a proportioned contribution may be asked to radio stations for the rebroadcasting of the programs of the Pope’s Radio.
The technical modalities in which Vatican Radio may be re-broadcasted are the following:
Internet “Professional services”: Nearly all of our programs are available on demand in the “Professional Services”, which is an area of our website www.vaticanradio.org/R4R made expressly for those radio stations wishing to download and re-broadcast Vatican Radio programs. The files of Vatican Radio programs of this area are of high quality, which means that they are made available to professional operators for re-broadcasting purposes. In the section Radio4Radios, you may find a list of all our programs available via internet and the server which allows to download closest to your area. If a radio station is interested in this type re-broadcasting, a password will be provided by our Computer Dept. in order to have access to download the files.
The satellite from which radio stations may pick up our programs are the following:
Eutelsat Hot Bird 13° East (Europe), Bouquet RAI
Intelsat AOR (Atlantic), IS 801, 328,5° E
Intelsat IOR (Indian), IS 904, 60° E.
In addition to its regular linguistic programs, Vatican Radio broadcasts all the Papal celebrations and ceremonies that take place inside and outside the Vatican as well as other Vatican special events. These extraordinary broadcasts (which are not included in our regular palimpsest) are made available by Vatican Radio to other radio stations for broadcasting purposes. The radios that are interested in this service may choose to broadcast live the international sound of the event or the international sound mixed with one of various language commentaries available of Vatican Radio. For the most important events, the commentaries are usually in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish (sometimes even in Arabic and Chinese). These commentaries are also made available for TV stations that receive the images produced by the Vatican Television Centre.
The international sound and/or the commentaries of the above-mentioned events may be picked up through the satellite or through an ISDN connection, which is a digital telephone circuit used by the broadcasters for these kinds of services.
Nowadays, a significant number of Latin American radio broadcasters receives a communication from the International Relations Office of the special broadcasts of Vatican Radio on which there are details (satellite, ISDN, web channel….) regarding the transmissions. If you desire to receive a similar communication, please send your request along with your e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who decide to broadcast the special event provided by Vatican Radio by means of an ISDN connection, it is necessary to send in due time a specific request to email@example.com. in order to get the ISDN number to be dialed to receive the international sound and/or the language commentary requested.
Vatican Radio provides its studio facilities along with technical assistance to Catholic radio stations for interviews, recording of programs, etc…These facilities are given compatibly to the working schedule of Vatican Radio and, for the more demanding requests, a payment could be asked.
An office expressly devoted to the promotion of Vatican Radio’s programs to the radios based in Latin America operates inside Vatican Radio. This office has the main task to maintain and reinforce the cooperation between the broadcasting station of the Holy See and the Latin American broadcasters. It accomplishes its mission in various ways, for instance by means of a program called “Cadena de Amistad” in which foreign Latin American radios contribute to the realization of the program itself, making available contents and sharing ideas on different issues. On Vatican Radio’s website, in the section Radio4Radios, there are some programs devoted to the Latin American radios: this section replaces the CDs that have been mailed for many years to some broadcasters of Latin America by Vatican Radio.
A visit to some Latin American countries is yearly undertaken by the Head of this office to meet personally the representatives of the radios and of the local Churches.
For more information, we invite you to address yourself to P. Guillermo Ortiz, S.J., Promoción America Latina, Tel. +39 06 6988 4804, Fax +39 06 6988 3237, firstname.lastname@example.org .
For further information and requirements, you may address yourselves directly to us. We will be glad to assist you.
The Team of International Relations of Vatican Radio
General Direction of Vatican Radio
International Relations Dept.
V-00120 Vatican City State
Tel. +39 06 698 83945
Fax +39 06 698 83237
To speak about the birth of Vatican Radio and the twelfth of February, 1931, is easy enough. However, it's more difficult to portray the ambience, the atmosphere, and the sense of excitment that permeated that momentous occasion. Guglielmo Marconi, the great scientist who had for years been celebrated in the world's newspapers, approached the 12th of February with fear; in fact he was almost trembling as he realized the import of the endeavor he was about to undertake for the Supreme Pontiff. Upon the arrival of His Holiness Pope Pius XI, Mr. Marconi genuflected and humbly kissed the ring of the Successor of Peter. Pope Pius nodded paternally, smiled, and placed his hand on Marconi's shoulder in a manner which was almost an embrace. One could continue to explain the beginning moments of Vatican Radio in this manner, but the moment is better conveyed through the exact words of those present on that splendid day sixty-five years ago on the Vatican Hill.
On February 12, 1931, the Marquis Marconi spoke these historical words:
I have the highest honor of announcing that in only a matter of seconds the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, will inaugurate the Radio Station of the Vatican City State. The electric radio waves will transport to all the world his words of peace and blessing.
This is how the world-renowned scientist Guglielmo Marconi announced the birth of Vatican Radio. He then continued:
With the help of Almighty God, who allows the many mysterious forces of nature to be used by man, I have been able to prepare this instrument which will accord to the Faithful of all the world the consolation of hearing the voice of the Holy Father. Most Holy Father, the work that Your Holiness has deigned to entrust to me, I, today return to You...may you deign, Holy Father, to allow the entire world to hear your august words.
A reporter at the time of this broadcast wrote, In this moment, the entire worlds awaits...The Vicar of Christ, through the means of this new ineffable instrument, and in a voice heard very clearly, begins to speak. It is exactly 4:49 p.m. on the Twelfth of February, Nineteen Thirty-One.
The rich text of the first radio message was written in Latin by Pius XI himself. The Pope imbued his message with passages from the Sacred Scriptures which emphasize the universality of the Gospel message. Pius XI concluded the first line of the discourse in this manner, Listen, O Heavens, to that which I say; listen, O Earth, listen to the words which come from my mouth...Listen and hear, O Peoples of distant lands! He continued, speaking in the voice of the Old Testament prophet, To the City and to the World! Now, we turn to the reporting of the event and to the story that preceeded it.
Pius XI, was born Achilles Ratti in 1857, at Desio near Milan. He ascended to the Pontificate on February 6, 1922. The theme of his pontificate could be condensed in the motto Pax Christi in regno Christi, that is, The Peace of Christ in the Reign of Christ. Close to the heart of this Pope was the evangelization of the Faith in mission lands. Also, he exhibited great openness and enthusiasm to the expansion of the field of scientific research. The evangelical motto, Let what I say be shouted from the rooftops -- what you hear in the darkness, speak it in the sunlight. The invention of radio finally actualized this passage from the Gospel. The conception, the plans, and the undertaking of a radio broadcasting station that would carry the voice of a Pope to a world-wide audience was the result of many years of research and planning.
Early Plans for a Wireless Station in Vatican City
As early as 1925, the Director General of Communications for Vatican City, Jesuit Father Giuseppe Gianfranceschi, was in the process of drawing up plans for the establishment of a wireless station in the Vatican. A letter written by Fr. Gianfranschi dated July 25, 1925 speaks about the establishment of such a transmission station.
Two years later Fr. Gianfranceschi contacted the Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi to undertake intitial plans and meetings for the realization of this project for the Pope. Marconi demonstrated much enthusiasm for this project and offered his complete availability to the Pontiff. Additionally, he stated that he would perform the work for the Church without charge. Two more years passed before the work would begin. Actually, it was the signing of the Lateran Treaty in 1929 that gave rise to the initiation of the work on this transmission station in the Vatican Gardens. Only four days after the signing of the Lateran Treaty, Marconi received official permission to begin construction of this project for the Vatican City State.
Work began immediately. Cardinal Confalonieri, the then Personal Secretary to the Pope, describes the installation of this work in the Vatican, The great inventor accompanied me in the Vatican Gardens for the first inspection. The modesty of Mr. Marconi was both impressive and edifying. It is really true that genius does not need to be exposed: it is small men who draw attention to themselves and put on airs...the process of installation of the transmission centre was done quickly and efficiently.
During the course of the construction, Pius XI personally accompanied Marconi through every step and detail. The date of September 21, 1930 was carefully selected. Jesuit Father Giuseppe Gianfranceschi, scientist, Rector of the prestigious Pontifical Gregorian University, President of the Pontifical Academy of Science, and companion of Umberto Nobile on the expedition to the North Pole (1929) was honored to become the first Director General of Vatican Radio. The document of appointment of the first Director General, carrying the signature of the Pope, begins in this manner:
Devoted son, We have thought that this would be the opportune moment to proceed with the choice of a person whom We fully trust, one who possesses complete competence and diligence to attend to the direction of this delicate and important service. Our Choice is given to You, O Beloved Son...Therefore, with Our Letter of Nomination, We nominate you Director of the Radio Station of Vatican City, completely assured that under your direction it will provide Us with those benefits that inspired Us to construct it.
Other high-qualified specialists contributed to the installation of Vatican Radio. Belgian engineer J. Baptise Mathieu, Mssrs. Isted and Jackson of the English Marconi Wireless Company, and Italian engineers Mssrs. Santamaria and Esposito assisted Marconi and Fr. Gianfranceshi in their efforts to complete the project in record time. In less than two years this dedicated team saw the completion of Vatican Radio.
Inauguration of Vatican Radio
On the inauguration day of Vatican Radio a large group of reporters and cameramen from Paramount News of the United States was present. They brought equipment of the highest quality to record the event. The cameras, although hand-powered, shot for the first time in the history of cinema exterior footage with live soundtrack. The film footage of the event, which is conserved in the archives of Vatican Radio, is an irreplaceable testimony of the event in the history of the Church and telecommunications.
It is a cold clear day, with a light wind coming from the mountains in the north...at exactly 3:00 p.m. a Papal gendarme orders the evacuation of the premises. Two Papal banners suspended from each side of the building flutter in the wind. Inside everything is prepared and ready for the first broadcast. The transmitters have been tested for the last time. At 3:30 p.m. the Marquis Marconi arrives; the illustrious inventor goes directly to the Amplification Studio, places the earphones on his head, and begins the transcontinental conversations. The voice arrives clearly in New York, Melbourne, and Quebec. Fr. Gianfranceschi works with his usual conentration in preparing the final arrangements for the broadcast of the Pope. Although beseiged with many questions he responds with his characteristic smile and kindness. His manner serves to reduce the commotion and nervousness of the day. After several moments the equipment is shut down and will be reactived only after the arrival of the Pontiff.
Now, the Station is immersed in a profound silence: the powerful machinery awaits in silence; the lamps on the control panel are switched off; the entire world nervously waits. In just a few moments the spark will be struck which will send out the signal to the entire world. This will be the miraculous moment that will give glory to God and to His Church.
It's now 4:20 p.m. The trumpets sound the arrival of the Holy Father. He arrives in the automobile, and makes his way to the Radio Transmission Station. As the Pope moves past the small party, all genuflect in reverence to the Successor of Peter. At the entrance of the building, Fr. Gianfranceshi and Guglielmo Marconi stand to greet Pius XI. The Pope is then accompanied to the Generator Room where, with a steady and definite manner, he moves the controls which activate the power. First a whirring is heard, then the sound of the powerful vibration of the motors takes over the room. His Holiness accomplishes several other maneuvers which will complete the opening of the circuits necessary to initate the transmission. Now everything is ready; the Pope has completed the operations necessary for the first transmission of Vatican Radio.
The first signal to be sent out is in Morse code. The technician types the words, In nomine Domini, Amen, that is In the Name of the Lord, amen! At this very instant radio stations, ships, and anyone who has the equipment to receive the signal hears this benediction and invitation. After a brief introduction of the Pope by Marconi, Pius XI takes the microphone and inaugurates the first world-wide radio message ever given by a Pope.
Excerpts from the Press of February 12, 1931
Vatican Radio Today
In 1996 Vatican Radio can boast of programs beamed worldwide on a daily basis. Programs are offered in 34 languages, and are sent out from the Vatican on short wave, medium wave, FM, and satellite. The Jesuit Order has been charged with the management of Vatican Radio since its inception in 1931. Continuing in the spirit of diligent work and professionalism of Father Gianfranceschi, S.J. is Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., the present Director General.
A new milestone was reached in 2007 with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Santa Maria di Galeria Broadcasting Centre, in the presence of the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. During that year, a multimedia novelty made its appearance on the Radio website: Thanks to images taken shortly before by the Vatican Television Centre (CTV), one-minute televised “pills” are published daily in the video news, giving an account of the Pope’s activities.
Recent years have seen an ongoing experimentation of digital transmission technologies (DRM, DAB, DAB +, T-DMB). Even from the informational point of view – with news reports and in-depth cultural and religious programs, bulletins and newsletters – the broadcaster will significantly improve its distribution, thanks to the systematic use of email, Podcasting (with all programs of the Vatican Radio, plus a channel dedicated to the voice of the Pope), along with web and social networks. In 2009 the partnered Vatican Radio/Vatican Television Center landed on YouTube with the new “Vatican” channel – beginning with four languages and later increased to six. In 2010 it was time for Twitter, with a number of language channels, distinguished by the prefix ‘news_va_’.
The convergence of written, audio and video production lead to the birth of the Vatican Tic, a distinguishing code for the appointments of the Pope that makes it possible to collect them in a single Agenda and see all the relevant articles and direct audio-video links. A customized Player, the Vatican Player, was also developed, which distributes all the live video of the papal celebrations produced by CTV, along with sound from Vatican radio and commentaries in different languages. And finally there is the app for mobile devices, smartphones, and tablets, in both Android and iPhone/iPad versions, with links to the News and the Vatican Player, and with updates on current news, reports and interviews produced by Vatican Radio. It’s one of the latest frontiers reached by the broadcaster, which, according to its long tradition, continues to hold the course in the vanguard of technology, which is necessary in to continue its mission adapt to the “rapid development” of communications, in order to help the Church “give a soul” both to the digital world and to social networks.
Thanks to an editorial team composed of 37 different languages, Vatican Radio, born on February 12, 1931, continues its commitment to the service of the Pope and the Magisterium of the Church in the world.
last update: august 23rd, 2013