Vatican Radio

Last updated
Vatican Radio
Radio Vaticana - Logo 2017.svg
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;91 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 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 area located 18 kilometres 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, 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) [11] 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) [12] 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. [13] 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. [14]

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. [15] [16]

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. [17]

See also


  1. "Vatican Radio Ends 85 Years of Independent Operations" . 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. (ed.). "Vatican" . Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  12. (ed.). "Radio Vaticana Telepace" . Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  13. "Zone extraterritoriali vaticane". 2001-04-03. Retrieved 2022-03-12.
  14. "General view of the Santa Maria di Galeria transmitter site". Archived from the original on 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
  15., ed. (8 May 2014). "1530 kHz, abbattuta l'antenna di Santa Maria di Galeria" (in Italian).
  16., ed. (19 May 2017). "Roma, Papa Francesco spegne le antenne per le onde medie" (in Italian).
  17. " - CBSi" . Retrieved 10 January 2017.

Related Research Articles

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

Shortwave radio is radio transmission using shortwave (SW) radio frequencies. There is no official definition of the band, but the range 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 transmission 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 which 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. Television broadcasting is a separate service which also uses radio frequencies to broadcast television (video) signals.

<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 and Opus codecs are also compatible, but the standard now specifies xHE-AAC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Skywave</span> Propagation of radio waves beyond the radio horizon.

In radio communication, skywave or skip refers to the propagation of radio waves reflected or refracted back toward Earth from the ionosphere, an electrically charged layer of the upper atmosphere. Since it is not limited by the curvature of the Earth, skywave propagation can be used to communicate beyond the horizon, at intercontinental distances. It is mostly used in the shortwave frequency bands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radio Netherlands Worldwide</span> Public international Dutch radio and television network

Radio Netherlands was a public radio and television network based in Hilversum, producing and transmitting programmes for international audiences outside the Netherlands from 1947 to 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shortwave listening</span> Hobby of listening to shortwave radio broadcasts located on frequencies between 1700 kHz and 30 MHz

Shortwave listening, or SWLing, is the hobby of listening to shortwave radio broadcasts located on frequencies between 1700 kHz and 30 MHz. Listeners range from casual users seeking international news and entertainment programming, to hobbyists immersed in the technical aspects of radio reception and collecting official confirmations that document their reception of distant 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 Monticello, Maine

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.

A broadcast transmitter is an electronic device which radiates radio waves modulated with information content intended to be received by the general public. Examples are a radio broadcasting transmitter which transmits audio (sound) to broadcast radio receivers (radios) owned by the public, or a television transmitter, which transmits moving images (video) to television receivers (televisions). The term often includes the antenna which radiates the radio waves, and the building and facilities associated with the transmitter. A broadcasting station consists of a broadcast transmitter along with the production studio which originates the broadcasts. Broadcast transmitters must be licensed by governments, and are restricted to specific frequencies and power levels. Each transmitter is assigned a unique identifier consisting of a string of letters and numbers called a callsign, which must be used in all broadcasts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ALLISS</span>

ALLISS is a somewhat rotatable antenna system for high power shortwave radio broadcasting in the 6 MHz to 26 MHz range. An ALLISS module is a self-contained shortwave relay station that is used for international broadcasting.

WRMI is a shortwave radio station broadcasting from Okeechobee, Florida, United States. WRMI is a commercial radio station that sells airtime to businesses and organizations.

Radio Poland is the official international broadcasting station of Poland.

WRNO is a commercial shortwave radio station which began international broadcasting on February 18, 1982 and continued regular broadcasting through the early 1990s from Metairie, Louisiana, with a continuation of periodic broadcasts starting in 2009. These call letters are still in use by the New Orleans station WRNO-FM; both were founded and originally owned by Joseph Costello III.

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

Radio România Internaţional is a Romanian radio station owned by the Romanian public radio broadcaster Societatea Română de Radiodifuziune that broadcasts abroad. Prior to 1989, the station was known as Radio Bucharest.

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

Radio Maria is an international Catholic radio broadcasting service founded in Erba, province of Como, in the diocese of Milan, Italy, in 1987.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nauen Transmitter Station</span> Oldest continuously operating radio transmitting installation in the world

Nauen Transmitter Station in Nauen, Havelland district, Brandenburg, Germany, is the oldest continuously operating radio transmitting installation in the world. Germany's first high power radio transmitter, it was founded on 1 April 1906 by Telefunken corporation and operated as a longwave radiotelegraphy station through World War II, and during World War I became Germany's main link with the outside world when its submarine communications cables were cut. Upgraded with shortwave transmitters in the 1920s it was Germany's most advanced long range radio station, continually upgraded with the latest equipment and serving as an experimental station for Telefunken to test new technology. At the end of World War II, invading Russian troops dismantled and removed the transmitting equipment. During the Cold War it served as the GDR's international shortwave station Radio Berlin International (RBI), and was the East Bloc's second most powerful radio station, disseminating Communist propaganda to other countries. Since German Reunification in 1991 it has been operated by Deutsche Telekom, Germany's state telecommunication service. The original 1920 transmitter building designed by architect Herman Muthesius is still used; it is the only remaining building designed by that architect.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">CKCX</span> Former CBC shortwave radio station near Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada

CKCX was the callsign used for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's shortwave transmitter complex near Sackville, New Brunswick at the Tantramar Marshes. The Sackville Relay Station was operated by Radio Canada International and broadcast its programming around the world as well as relay transmissions from several foreign shortwave broadcasters. Domestically, it transmitted broadcasts on 9.625 MHz to northern Quebec by CBC North, the James Bay Cree Communications Society and Taqramiut Nipingat, the Inuit communications society of the Nunavik region of northern Quebec. The CKCX designation was assigned after CBC Radio's CBA, under whose licence the Sackville complex originally operated, moved to Moncton in 1968. Sackville was also used by Radio Japan, China Radio International, Voice of Vietnam, BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle and Radio Korea as part of a transmitter time exchange agreement.

WWRB is a shortwave international broadcasting station known as both "World Wide Religious Broadcasting" and "World Wide Radio Broadcasting" broadcasting from Morrison, Tennessee. It is a subsidiary of Airline Transport Communications Incorporated. The station features primarily Christian religious programming. WWRB is unusual among shortwave broadcast stations in that it does not utilize radio airtime brokers for selling airtime, instead preferring to directly rent time to clients.

PCJJ was a pioneering shortwave radio station in the Netherlands operated by Philips Radio on behalf of Philips Laboratories, a division of Philips Electronics. It was the first shortwave radio station in Europe, and the first dedicated shortwave radio station in the world - previous stations had simulcast AM/medium wave broadcasts.