One of the many things I learnt during the Pope’s recent state visit to the United Kingdom was that the Vatican has a railway system. The 1.2 square miles given to the Pope to create a Catholic state by Benito Mussolini in 1929 has its own railway station called ‘stazione’ on the map but sadly it doesn’t have any regular passenger services and the Holy Fathers themselves hardly ever board a train there. I learnt this when wiki-ing about the unique city state (recognised nation not in the UN etc etc) that is the Vatican.
Like all good schoolboys I already knew about the Vatican’s flag. Yellow and white and with those funny keys which are probably something do with God, or St Peter, or not following those pesky temporal laws, it’s one of those flags that crops up when pub quizes do a round on such things. And those flags were draped all over The Mall during the state visit despite the nearest his popeyness getting to the place being a visit to Lambeth Palace to visit the Archbishop of Canterbury (a man who the Pope doesn’t think is a real Christian but with whom he has a shared interest in ecclesiastical dresses) and then that big tribal gathering in Hyde Park.
The visit itself blew forth bluster from both the chattering and credulous classes. I was particularly impressed by this response by The Daily Mash to the Pope’s declaration that the nazis were atheists but I especially loved this piece by Richard Dawkins. The mere mention of Dawkins should give away whose ‘side’ I’d be on come a Holy War.