RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Lord, may the faith grow within us.” That’s the theme of Pope Benedict’s one day pastoral visit Sunday to the tiny Republic of San Marino, nestled in the midst of Italy, on the eastern side of the Apennine mountain range. The approximately 40 mile wide stretch of territory is one of just a handful of city-states in Europe - the sort of political units that made up much of the continent throughout the centuries.
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Like Lesotho and Vatican City (which of course finds itself right in the heart of the Eternal City) it is one of just three states to be completely surrounded by another country.
Pope Benedict’s visit coincides with the twenty-ninth anniversary of his predecessor Pope John Paul II’s historic visit and on the heels of a two day apostolic journey to Croatia in early June, where he celebrated the first National Day for the Catholic Family.
Considered the world’s fifth smallest state, San Marino can trace its origins back to 301 AD when, as chance has it, Croatia played a certain role in its foundation. According to legend, it was founded by a Christian stonemason named Marinus from the Croatian coast of Dalmatia. He was later made a saint for his defense of the faith in times of persecution.
Passionist Fr. Ciro Benedettini, Deputy Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, hails from San Marino. Tracey McClure spoke to him ahead of Pope Benedict’s journey to the Republic.