(The Holy See)
Popes in their secular
role ruled portions of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand
years until the mid 19th century, when many of the Papal States were
seized by the newly united Kingdom of Italy. In 1870, the pope's
holdings were further circumscribed when Rome itself was annexed.
Disputes between a series of "prisoner" popes and Italy were resolved
in 1929 by three Lateran Treaties, which established the independent
state of Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in
Italy. In 1984, a concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified
certain of the earlier treaty provisions, including the primacy of
Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion.