Vatican lira

Last updated
Vatican lira
lira vaticana (Italian)
500 Lire
ISO 4217
Symbol None official, see Italian lira
1100 centesimo
Subunits were abolished after WWII
centesimo centesimi (c.)
BanknotesItalian lira banknotes
Freq. used50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 Lire
Rarely used1 Lira, 2, 5, 10, 20 Lire
User(s)None, previously:
Flag of the Vatican City.svg   Vatican City
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
Flag of San Marino.svg  San Marino
Central bank Banca d'Italia
EU Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM)
Since13 March 1979, 25 November 1996 [lower-alpha 1]
Withdrawn16 September 1992 (Black Wednesday)
Fixed rate since31 December 1998
Replaced by euro, non cash1 January 1999
Replaced by euro, cash1 January 2002
1  =1,936.27 Lire
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.
  1. Indirectly (1:1 peg to ITL).

The lira (plural lire; abbreviation: VAL) was the currency of the Vatican City between 1929 and 2002. It was not a separate currency but an issue of the Italian lira; the Banca d'Italia produced coins specifically for Vatican City.



The Papal States, by the late 1860s, was reduced to a small area close to Rome, used its own lira between 1866 and 1870 as a member of the Latin Monetary Union. Upon the conclusion of the Risorgimento, the state, and its currency, ceased to exist. In 1929, the Lateran Treaty established the State of the Vatican City and, according to the terms of the treaty, a distinct coinage was introduced, denominated in centesimi and lire, on par with the Italian lira. Italian coins and banknotes were legal tender in the Vatican City. The Vatican coins were minted in Rome and were also legal tender in Italy and San Marino.

In 2002, the Vatican City switched to the euro at an exchange rate of 1 euro = 1,936.27 Lire. It has its own set of euro coins.


The development of Vatican coins largely mirrored the development of the Italian lire coins.

In 1929, copper c.5 and c.10, nickel c.20 and c.50, 1 Lira and 2 Lire, silver 5 Lire and 10 Lire, and gold 100 Lire coins were introduced. In 1936, the gold content of 100 Lire coins was decreased from 0.2546 to 0.1502 troy ounces. [1] In 1939, aluminium bronze replaced copper and, in 1940, stainless steel replaced nickel. Between 1941 and 1943, production of the various denominations was reduced to only a few thousand per year.

In 1947, a new coinage was introduced consisting of aluminium 1 Lira, 2 Lire, 5 Lire and 10 Lire. The sizes of these coins were reduced in 1951. In 1955, stainless steel 50 Lire and 100 Lire were introduced, followed by aluminium-bronze 20 Lire in 1957 and silver 500 Lire in 1958. The 1 Lira and 2 Lire ceased production in 1977, followed by the 5 Lire in 1978. Aluminium-bronze 200 Lire were introduced in 1978, followed by bi-metallic 500 Lire and 1,000 Lire in 1985 and 1997, respectively. The 50 Lire and 100 Lire were reduced in size in 1992.

Beginning in 1967, the Vatican began issuing coins using Roman numerals for the year of issue, as opposed to the more common Arabic numerals.

Vatican lire coins were discontinued after the advent of the euro.

Vatican City has frequently issued its coins in yearly changing commemorative series, featuring a wide variety of themes. While most of these were sold in the form of uncirculated mint sets, a portion of Vatican coins were released into general circulation.

Circulating coins from Pius XI to Pius XII papacies (1929-1958)

ImageValueTechnical ParametersDescription
ObverseReverseDiameterMassCompositionObverseReverseYears of IssuePapacy
1931 Vatican City 5 Centesimi.png
1931 Vatican City 5 Centesimi.png
5 Centesimi20mm3.25 grams 95% Copper Crowned ShieldOlive Branch1929-1938Pius XI
2.95 grams Bronzital 1939-1941Pius XII
2.95 gramsBust of Pius XIIDove1942-1946
1931 Vatican City 10 Centesimi.png
1931 Vatican City 10 Centesimi.png
10 Centesimi22mm5.4 grams 95% Copper Crowned ShieldBust of St. Peter 1929-1938Pius XI
4.9 grams Bronzital 1939-1941Pius XII
4.9 gramsBust of Pius XIIDove1942-1946
1931 Vatican City 20 Centesimi.png
1931 Vatican City 20 Centesimi.png
20 Centesimi21mm4.1 gramsNickelCrowned ArmsBust of St. Paul 1929-1937Pius XI
20 Centesimi - Citta del Vaticano - 1940.png
20 Centesimi - Citta del Vaticano - 1940.png
1939-1941Pius XII
4 grams Acmonital Crowned ShieldJustice with law tabets1942-1946
50 Centesimi24mm6 gramsNickelCrowned Arms Saint Michael 1929-1937Pius XI
1939-1941Pius XII
6 gramsStainless SteelCrowned ShieldJustice with law tabets1942-1946
1 Lira27mm8.1 gramsNickelCrowned Arms St. Mary standing atop globe1929-1937Pius XI
26.65mm7.86 grams Acmonital Crowned Arms1940-1941Pius XII
Justice with law tabets1942-1946
1.25 grams Italma 1947-1949
Holy Door 1950
1953 Vatican City 1 lira.png
1953 Vatican City 1 lira.png
17mm0.6200 gramsTemperance standing pouring libation in bowl1951-1956
2 Lire29mm10 gramsNickelCrowned ArmsLamb on shepard's shoulders1929-1937Pius XI
1939Pius XII
10.2 gramsStainless SteelCrowned ArmsLamb on shepard's shoulders1940-1941
Crowned ShieldJustice with law tabets1942-1946
24mm1.75 gramsAluminum1947-1949
Pius XII bustDove and St. Peter's Basilica Dome1950
18mmCrowned ShieldFortitude standing with lion at feet1951-1958
5 Lire23mm5 grams0.8350 SilverBust of Pius XISt. Peter in a boat1929-1937Pius XI
Arms of Cardinal Eugenio Dove within half sun1939 Sede Vacante
Vatican City 1939 5 lire.png
Vatican City 1939 5 lire.png
Bust of Pius XIISt. Peter in a boat1939-1941Pius XII
Caritas figure with children1942-1946
26.5mm2.5 gramsAluminumBust of Pius XII1947-1949
Pope with staff within Holy Door1950
5 Lire - Citta del Vaticano 03.jpg 5 Lire - Citta del Vaticano 02.jpg 20mm1 gramJustice standing with sword and scales1951-1958
10 Lire27mm10 grams0.8350 SilverBust of Pius XISt. Mary holding infant1929-1937Pius XI
Arms of Cardinal EugenioDove within half sun1939Sede Vacante
Bust of Pius XIISt. Mary holding infant1939-1941Pius XII
Caritas figure with children1942-1946
29mm3 gramsAluminum1947-1949
1950 Vatican City 10 lire.png
1950 Vatican City 10 lire.png
Pope with staff within Holy Door1950
1951 Vatican City 10 lire.png
1951 Vatican City 10 lire.png
23mm1 gramPrudence standing1951-1958
20 Lire21.25mm3.600 gramsAluminum-BronzeCaritas figure with children1957
21.25mm5.600 grams1958
50 Lire24.8mm6.200 gramsStainless SteelSpes standing with large anchor1955-1958
1931 Pius XI.jpg
1931 Pius XI.jpg
100 Lire23.5mm8.8 grams0.9000 GoldBust of Pius XIJesus with child at feet1929-1935Pius XI
20.5mm5.19 grams1936-1938
Bust of Pius XII1939-1941Pius XII
1948 100 Lire Vatikan.jpg
1948 100 Lire Vatikan.jpg
Caritas figure with children1942-1949
Crowned Pius XIIOpening of Holy Door1950
Bust of Pius XIICaritas figure with children1951-1956
Crowned Shield1957-1958
27.75mm8.000 gramsStainless SteelFides with large cross1955-1958
500 Lire29mm11.000 grams0.8350 SilverCrowned Shield1958

See also

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  1. Cuhaj, George S. (December 2009). 2010 Standard Catalog of World Coins (37 ed.). Krause Publications. p. 2181. ISBN   978-0896898141.