|Adopted||7 June 1929|
|Design||A vertical bicolour of gold and white, charged with the coat of arms centred on the white portion|
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The flag of Vatican City was adopted in 1929. 1929 is the year Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with Italy, creating a new independent state governed by the Holy See. The flag of Vatican City is modeled on the 1808 yellow-and-white flag of the earlier Papal States, to which a papal tiara and the crossed keys of Saint Peter were added.
The flag is also interchangeably referred to as the flag of the Holy See.
The 2023 Fundamental Law of Vatican City State states: "The flag of the Vatican City State is made up of two vertically divided sides, one yellow adhering to the hoist and the other white, and in the latter carries the tiara with the keys, all according to the model on Annex A of this Law".
The flag is described in Article 23 of the 2023 Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, with a visual model appended as Attachment A.
The flag was described in Article 19 of the 1929 Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, with a visual model appended as Attachment A.
The flag was described in Article 20 of the 2000 Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, with a visual model appended as Attachment A. The 2000 Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, Article 20, Attachment A, shows a square flag. In 2010, the Apostolic Nunciature to Germany stated that the flag does not have to be square.
During 2018 visit by Pope Francis to Ireland, South Dublin County Council refused to fly the Vatican flag; a local petrol station began to fly the flag in response.
A Police Scotland list of flags which could be a criminal offence to display "in a threatening manner" included the Vatican flag; sectarianism is common in Scotland, especially in Glasgow, and the Vatican flag could supposedly be flown as a sign of Catholic identity to intimidate Protestant neighbours.
In 1808 Pope Pius VII ordered the Vatican's Noble Guard and other troops to replace red color with white, in order to distinguish them from the troops that had been incorporated into Napoleon's army.
In 1803, the Papal States started using a white merchant flag with the Papal coat of arms in the centre. This flag was made official on 7 June 1815. On 17 September 1825, it was replaced with a yellow and white flag which took its colours from the materials of the key (yellow for gold, white for silver). These colors were probably taken from the 1808 flag of the Palatine guard. This was the first bicolour used by the Papal States and the ancestor of the modern flag of Vatican City. The merchant flag also served as a state flag on land.
Starting in 1831, the papal infantry flew square yellow and white flags. At first, they were diagonally divided, but after 1849 they were vertically divided like the merchant flag. The last infantry colour, adopted in 1862, was a plain square white and yellow flag.
On 8 February 1849, while Pope Pius IX was in exile in Gaeta, a Roman Republic was declared. The new government's flag was the Italian tricolor with the motto "Dio e Popolo" on the central stripe. The papal government and its flags were restored on 2 July 1849. On 20 September 1870, the Papal States were conquered by Italy and the yellow and white flags fell out of official use.
After the Lateran Treaty was signed in 1929, papal authorities decided to use the 1825–1870 merchant flag as the state flag of the soon to be independent Vatican City state. The treaty came into effect on 7 June 1929.
It can be difficult for the eye to distinguish between the two bands of gold and white of the flag. Armorist Bruno Heim criticised the flag for placing silver keys on a white field, and suggested a new yellow-and-white flag with the papal arms on a red shield in the centre.
A variant version of the flag, also described as being incorrect, has been commonly used. In this version, the visible inner lining of the papal tiara is colored red instead of white, and a different shade of yellow or gold is used in some portions of the coat of arms, thus differing from the official emblazonment of the flag as seen in the Fundamental Law. This was used as Wikimedia Commons' version of the Vatican flag from 2006 and 2007 and from 2017 and 2022, and since became widespread on the Internet. The discrepancy likely resulted from the fact that the coat of arms of the Holy See has the underside of the tiara colored red.
Anticamente la bandiera dello Stato pontificio era giallorossa (o per meglio dire amaranto e rossa, colori derivati dai colori dello stemma della Santa Sede), i due colori tradizionali del Senato e del Popolo romano, che vennero tuttavia sostituiti con il bianco e il giallo nel 1808, allorché Pio VII