“Where does the Pope live?” is one of the questions your kids would ask you whenever they see the pontiff on TV. If you’re not Catholic, chances are you found out about the Pope in your history classes. Whatever the case may be, the answer would be “Vatican City.”

Vatican City from the Vatican City Gardens. Krzysztof Golik CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Vatican City is one of the smallest internationally recognized states in the world. It has a land area of 0.49 kmor literally just 1/8th the size of Central Park in New York. The Pope, along with the Holy See, had treated Vatican City as the city state at the head of the Catholic faith since 1870. It officially gained independence from Italy on February 11, 1929. This was when the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy was signed.

Today, the Vatican is one of the few states without a standing army or any official armed forces. So, how did they survive World War I, World War II, and defend themselves if they were to be attacked? More so, who guards the state during the normal, day-to-day occasions when tourists arrive within its borders?

The More Ancient Papal Defenders

No, the papal defenders isn’t a football team, contrary to what it might sound like. Before the Vatican state existed, there thrived the Papal States, otherwise known as the “Stato Pontificio.” These were parcels of land given to the Pope by kingdoms heavily inspired by Christianity.