Vatican Radio

Last updated
Vatican Radio
Vatican Radio Logo.png
Broadcast areaWorldwide
Format News, religious celebrations, in-depth programs, and music
Affiliations World Radio Network
Owner Secretariat for Communications of the Roman Curia
First air date
12 February 1931;93 years ago (1931-02-12)
Technical information
Transmitter coordinates
41°54′14″N12°27′01″E / 41.9039°N 12.4503°E / 41.9039; 12.4503
Website Vatican Radio

Vatican Radio (Italian : Radio Vaticana; Latin : Statio Radiophonica Vaticana) is the official broadcasting service of Vatican City.


Established in 1931 by Guglielmo Marconi, today its programs are offered in 47 languages, and are sent out on short wave, DRM, medium wave, FM, satellite and the Internet. Since its inception, Vatican Radio has been maintained by the Jesuit Order. Vatican Radio preserved its independence during the rise of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

Today, programming is produced by over 200 journalists located in 61 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.

On 27 June 2015, Pope Francis, in a motu proprio apostolic letter, established the Secretariat for Communications in the Roman Curia, which absorbed Vatican Radio effective 1 January 2017, ending the organization's 85 years of independent operation. [1]



Pope Pius XI, his successor Cardinal Pacelli with Guglielmo Marconi at the starting of Vatican Radio in 1931 PioXI et Pacelliinaugurazioneradiovaticana.jpg
Pope Pius XI, his successor Cardinal Pacelli with Guglielmo Marconi at the starting of Vatican Radio in 1931
Administration building and radio masts at Vatican City (2018) Vatican Radio and Mater Ecclesiae monastery.jpg
Administration building and radio masts at Vatican City (2018)

Vatican Radio began broadcasting with the callsign HVJ [2] on two shortwave frequencies using 10 kilowatts (kW) of power on 12 February 1931, with the pontificial message "Omni creaturae" of Pope Pius XI. [3] Also in attendance was Guglielmo Marconi and Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who would become Pope Pius XII. [3] 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. [3]

In 1936, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recognized Vatican Radio as a "special case" and authorized its broadcasting without any geographical limits. On 25 December 1937 a Telefunken 25 kW transmitter and two directional antennas were added. Vatican Radio broadcast over 10 frequencies. [3]

World War II

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 21 January 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. [4]

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, [5] Jacques Adler 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. [6]

1940s and 1950s

In 1948, services expanded to 18 languages.

Due to space constraints, the Holy See acquired a 400-hectare (1½ sq. mi.) area located 18 kilometres (11 miles) north of Rome at Santa Maria di Galeria (GC: 42°2′39″N12°19′22″E / 42.04417°N 12.32278°E / 42.04417; 12.32278 ). The Italian Republic granted the site extraterritorial status in 1952. [3]

In 1957, a new broadcasting center was placed in 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. [3]

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


In the 21st century, Vatican Radio has experimented with digital transmission technologies (DRM, T-DAB, T-DMB) and has used electronic newsletters, podcasts, and other new technologies to distribute its programming. Vatican Radio and CTV began their own YouTube channel in 2010, operating in four languages, and operates six Twitter accounts.

In May 2009 it was announced that Vatican Radio would begin broadcasting commercial advertisements for the first time in July. The decision was made to meet the radio's rising costs, namely 21.4m euros a year. All advertisements would have to meet "high moral standards". [7] Vatican Radio stopped transmitting short- and medium-wave broadcasts to North America, South America, and Europe on Sunday 1 July 2012. The Vatican Press Office closed Vatican Information Service in August 2012. [8]

In 2014 Michael Gannon, from Ireland, became the first person with Down Syndrome to work at any Vatican office, which he did as an intern at Vatican Radio. [9] [10]

As of 2016, Vatican Radio had a staff of 355 people who produce more than 66 hours of daily programming in 45 languages on air, and 38 languages on the website. Programs are broadcast via short wave, FM and satellite.

Vatican Radio has been losing between €20 and €30 million annually. With its absorption into the Curia's Secretariat for Communications on 1 January 2017 Vatican Radio director Msgr. Dario Viganò has indicated that he plans to pare down short-wave radio operations and institute cost control measures in the service's other broadcast operations.

On 24 March 2017, Vatican Radio made its final English-language shortwave transmission to Asia after 59 years of service. Vatican Radio's English Service for Asia has then continued online.

Television and satellite

During the 1930s, the station made experimental television broadcasts. Apart from a brief experimental revival in the 1950s (callsign HVJ, started 1953. Channel 8 on the French standard for VHF, had plans to switch to the standard used in the rest of Europe), [11] it was not until the 1990s that a regular 'satellite' television service began. The programs of TV2000 include programming from Vatican Television Center.

Vatican Channel HD is available in English and Italian on the satellite through Eutelsat Hot Bird 13°est (11334 MHz, pol.H, Sr 27500,3/4) [12] as well as on terrestrial TV in the Rome metropolitan area, and Vatican Media Europe multilanguage on Hot Bird 13B (12475 MHz, pol.H, Sr 29900, 3/4).

Vatican Radio Europe is available via satellite through Eutelsat Hot Bird 13°est (12476 MHz, pol.H, Sr 29900, 3/4) [13] and Radio Vaticana 5, in Italian Eutelsat 9B (12466 MHz, pol.V, Sr 41950, 3/4).


Transmitter array at the Vatican Radio transmitter site, Santa Maria di Galeria Santa Maria di Galeria.jpg
Transmitter array at the Vatican Radio transmitter site, Santa Maria di Galeria

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. [14] Vatican Radio's interval signal, Christus Vincit, is a well-known sound on shortwave radio.

One aerial for the medium wave frequency 1530 kHz which consists of four 94-metre-high (308 ft) grounded freestanding towers arranged in a square, which carry wires for a medium wave aerial on horizontal crossbars. The direction of this aerial can be changed. [15]

From May 2014 to December 2016 the antennas of Santa Maria di Galeria were progressively decommissioned, which radiated the average wave signal on 1530 kHz with programs destined for Italy, Europe and the Mediterranean area. [16] [17]

Radiation controversy

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. [18]

See also


  1. "Vatican Radio Ends 85 Years of Independent Operations". 31 December 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  2. Matelski, Marilyn J.. Vatican Radio: Propagation by the Airwaves. 1995, Praeger. ISBN   0-275-94760-2
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Levillain 2002: 1600
  4. Blet 1999: 74-75
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. "Vatican Radio to air advertising", BBC, 26 May 2009
  8. "Catholic News Service". Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  9. "Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney - News" . Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  10. "Vatican Radio" . Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  11. "Television Factbook" (PDF). 1955. p. 242. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  12. (ed.). "Vatican" . Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  13. (ed.). "Radio Vaticana Telepace" . Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  14. "Zone extraterritoriali vaticane". 2001-04-03. Retrieved 2022-03-12.
  15. "General view of the Santa Maria di Galeria transmitter site". Archived from the original on 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
  16., ed. (8 May 2014). "1530 kHz, abbattuta l'antenna di Santa Maria di Galeria" (in Italian).
  17., ed. (19 May 2017). "Roma, Papa Francesco spegne le antenne per le onde medie" (in Italian).
  18. " - CBSi" . Retrieved 10 January 2017.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shortwave radio</span> Radio transmissions using wavelengths between 10 m and 100 m

Shortwave radio is radio transmission using radio frequencies in the shortwave bands (SW). There is no official definition of the band range, but it always includes all of the high frequency band (HF), which extends from 3 to 30 MHz ; above the medium frequency band (MF), to the bottom of the VHF band.

International broadcasting, in a limited extent, began during World War I, when German and British stations broadcast press communiqués using Morse code. With the severing of Germany's undersea cables, the wireless telegraph station in Nauen was the country's sole means of long-distance communication.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radio broadcasting</span> Transmission by radio waves intended to reach a wide audience

Radio broadcasting is the broadcasting of audio (sound), sometimes with related metadata, by radio waves to radio receivers belonging to a public audience. In terrestrial radio broadcasting the radio waves are broadcast by a land-based radio station, while in satellite radio the radio waves are broadcast by a satellite in Earth orbit. To receive the content the listener must have a broadcast radio receiver (radio). Stations are often affiliated with a radio network that provides content in a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast, or both. Radio stations broadcast with several different types of modulation: AM radio stations transmit in AM, FM radio stations transmit in FM, which are older analog audio standards, while newer digital radio stations transmit in several digital audio standards: DAB, HD radio, DRM.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Digital Radio Mondiale</span> Digital radio broadcasting standard

Digital Radio Mondiale is a set of digital audio broadcasting technologies designed to work over the bands currently used for analogue radio broadcasting including AM broadcasting—particularly shortwave—and FM broadcasting. DRM is more spectrally efficient than AM and FM, allowing more stations, at higher quality, into a given amount of bandwidth, using xHE-AAC audio coding format. Various other MPEG-4 codecs and Opus are also compatible, but the standard now specifies xHE-AAC.

Digital radio is the use of digital technology to transmit or receive across the radio spectrum. Digital transmission by radio waves includes digital broadcasting, and especially digital audio radio services.

Radio Canada International (RCI) is the international broadcasting service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Prior to 1970, RCI was known as the CBC International Service. The broadcasting service was also previously referred to as the Voice of Canada, broadcasting on shortwave from powerful transmitters in Sackville, New Brunswick. "In its heyday", said Radio World magazine, "Radio Canada International was one of the world's most listened-to international shortwave broadcasters". However, as the result of an 80 percent budget cut, shortwave services were terminated in June 2012, and RCI became accessible exclusively via the Internet. It also reduced its services to five languages and ended production of its own news service.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation</span> Public radio and television outlet

Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, or CyBC, is Cyprus' public broadcasting service. It transmits island-wide on four radio and two domestic television channels, and uses one satellite channel for the Cypriot diaspora. It also transmits on a separate high definition channel.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shortwave listening</span> Hobby of listening to shortwave radio

Shortwave listening, or SWLing, is the hobby of listening to shortwave radio broadcasts located on frequencies between 1700 kHz and 30 MHz (30 000 kHz). Listeners range from casual users seeking international news and entertainment programming, to hobbyists immersed in the technical aspects of long-distance radio reception and sending and collecting official confirmations that document their reception of remote broadcasts (DXing). In some developing countries, shortwave listening enables remote communities to obtain regional programming traditionally provided by local medium wave AM broadcasters. In 2002, the number of households that were capable of shortwave listening was estimated to be in the hundreds of millions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">WBCQ (SW)</span> Radio station in Maine, United States

WBCQ is a shortwave radio station operating at Monticello, Maine, United States. The station is owned and operated by Allan Weiner, who also owns and operates WXME AM 780 kHz and WBCQ-FM 94.7 MHz at the shortwave site. WBCQ began operation on September 8, 1998, on 7.415 MHz. The station transmits talk shows and other programs produced by commercial networks as well as former pirate radio broadcasters, including Weiner himself.

HCJB, "The Voice of the Andes", was the first radio station with daily programming in Ecuador and the first Christian missionary radio station in the world. The station was founded in 1931 by Clarence W. Jones, Reuben Larson, and D. Stuart Clark. HCJB now focuses on Ecuador with unified programming on FM at 89.3 MHz in Pichincha, at 92.5 MHz in Manabí, at 96.1 MHz in Tungurahua and Cotopaxi, at 98.3 MHz in Esmeraldas and with separate programming on AM at 690 kHz. Broadcasts in Spanish and indigenous languages on 6.05 MHz (1 kW), continue on an intermittent basis with a new solid state transmitter which in 2017 replaced an older (5 kW) transmitter. These broadcasts were not listed on the HCJB English website as of February 2016.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radio Poland</span> External service of the Polish public broadcaster

Radio Poland is the official international broadcasting station of Poland and is a part of Poland’s public radio network, Polish Radio.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Woofferton transmitting station</span>

The Woofferton transmitting station is owned and operated by Encompass Digital Media, as one of the BBC's assets which were handed over as part of the privatization of World Service distribution and transmission in 1997. It is the last remaining UK shortwave broadcasting site, located at Woofferton, south of Ludlow, Shropshire, England. The large site spreads across into neighbouring Herefordshire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radio Romania International</span> International broadcasting service of Romania

Radio Romania International is a Romanian radio station owned by the Romanian public radio broadcaster Societatea Română de Radiodifuziune that broadcasts abroad. It was created in 1927 and was known as Radio Bucharest before 1989.

The International Programme of Croatian Radio "Voice of Croatia" is the international service of Croatian state radio via satellite and Internet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radio Maria</span> Catholic radio station

Radio Maria, formally known as The World Family of Radio Maria, is an international Catholic radio broadcasting service founded in Erba, province of Como, in the diocese of Milan, Italy, in 1987.

Telepace is an Italy-based broadcasting network, established in 1979, that carries Roman Catholic-themed programming. The programs include programming from Centro Televisivo Vaticano. Its headquarters are in Cerna, a frazione of Sant'Anna d'Alfaedo, Italy, with branches in Trento, Agrigento, Lodi, Fátima and Jerusalem.

TV2000 is an Italy-based broadcasting network that carries Roman Catholic-themed programming, available on digital terrestrial television in Italy and owned by the Italian Episcopal Conference, the conference of the Catholic bishops of Italy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radio Rossii</span> Russian radio station

Radio Rossii is the primary public radio station in Russia.

Vatican Radio's Belarusian Service is a structural department of the Vatican Radio broadcasting network in the Belarusian language.