It was announced recently that Mr. D'Arcy Osborne, the British Minister to the Vatican, has notified the Pope that Britain undertakes not to bomb the Vatican City.
Nevertheless it is regarded as unlikely that the Vatican City, which covers no less than 108 acres of Rome, can hope to escape some effects of a bombardment of legitimate military objectives in Rome, if that is ever undertaken. it is, therefore, necessary that the Vatican should take strong precautions to protect itself against the dangers of air raids. As a matter of fact, however, these precautions have been very limited. A few years ago, during a campaign for air raid protection, suggestions from the Italian authorities that a supply of gas masks be provided, were accepted.
As regards air bombing, the Vatican has already an excellent refuge in ,the powerful and massive tower of Alexander VI, remains of the walls of the fifteenth century surround the Vatican on the side of the ancient Porta Angelica,
THE POPE'S REFUGE
This rampart consists of a low and massive round tower whose walls have a width of 28 feet. Recently, it was strengthened with a powerful metal cap, not for military reasons but merely by a happy coincidence. In fact, in the upper part of the tower is located the office of the Fondi di Religions " which guards and administers funds for the religious societies that deposit them.
To guard this wealth a vast vault was built in such a way that a solid cap of steel covers the whole structure. At this moment the necessary work is being carried on to divide the single very large chamber into several smaller rooms which will have air-proof entrances. Besides this, nothing has been done for the present.
The construction of a large refuge has been proposed to he built under the residence of the Canons of St. Peter, but the work has not begun. Beyond that, the Vatican City has not many cellars because the buildings there are mostly built on sloping land.
As regards the external precautions, Vatican City, during anti-air raid experiments, has always conformed to the rules established for the city of Rome in regard to black-outs.
NO SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS
The Vatican technical office wanted to build a special refuge for the Pope and had already fixed the place where the refuge was to be built, but. when Pius XII was informed, he forbade that anything special should be done for him.
It is generally assumed that Rome will be declared an open city in order to save it from air raids. Not the least reason for this provision would be anxiety to avoid attacks on Vatican City.