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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2008 (VIS) - During a press conference held this morning, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican, presented the results of the recently-completed restoration of the Valerii Mausoleum, one of the most important monuments of the Roman necropolis located under the Vatican Basilica.

  The mausoleum, which dates from the 2nd century AD and is famous for its stucco decorations, is located in the middle of the route through the old necropolis that leads to the tomb of St. Peter. The stuccowork was in need of restoration because it had been damaged by the instability of the microclimate in the necropolis and by earlier restoration using inappropriate materials.

  The operation, which lasted ten months and was undertaken by a team of experts specialising in underground restorations, was carried out using scalpels, mini drills and, for the most delicate areas, laser equipment. Furthermore, by studying stucco fragments conserved in the storerooms of the Fabric of St. Peter's, it was also possible to recompose three hermae.

  Finally, the monument was enclosed within a glass cover, so it may be viewed without affecting the delicate balance of the internal microclimate, which is constantly monitored by a high-precision computerised system. New illumination, using fibre optic cables, makes it possible to admire the coloured surfaces, frescoed to imitate polychrome marble, and the white stucco decorations, modelled to replicate marble statues.

  The restoration work was made possible thanks the help of the "Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra". Present at the press conference alongside Cardinal Comastri were Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, delegate of the Fabric of St. Peter's; Maria Cristina Carlo Stella, bureau chief of the Fabric; Pietro Zander, head of conservation for the Vatican necropolis; Adele Cecchini, restorer, and Hans-Albert Courtial, president of the "Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra".
.../RESTORATION VALERII MAUSOLEUM/COMASTRI                VIS 20080527 (320)


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Vatican Publishing House has recently released a new edition of the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, comprising information on the main aspects of Catholic Church activity in various countries for the period 2000-2006.

  Over these seven years, the Catholic presence in the world has remained stable at around 17.3 percent of the total population. In Europe, despite the fact that 25 percent of all Catholics live there, the growth in the number of faithful was less than one percent. In the Americas and in Oceania their numbers grew, respectively, by 8.4 percent and 7.6 percent; in Asia they remained more or less stable with respect to population growth, whereas in Africa they increased from 130 million in 2000 to 158.3 million in 2006.

  The number of bishops in the world went up from 4,541 in 2000 to 4,898 in 2006, an increase of 7.86 percent.

  The number of priests also increased slightly over this seven-year period, passing from 405,178 in 2000 to 407,262 in 2006, an overall rise of around 0.51 percent. In Africa and Asia their numbers increased (respectively, by 23.24 percent and 17.71 percent), in the Americas they remained stable, while they fell by 5.75 percent in Europe and 4.37 percent in Oceania.

  The number of diocesan priests increased by two percent, going from 265,781 in 2000 to 271,091 in 2006. By contrast, the number of regular priests showed a constant decline, down by 2.31 percent to 136,000 in 2006. Of the continents, only in Europe was there a clear reduction in priests: in 2000 they represented 51 percent of the world total, in 2006 just 48 percent. On the other hand, Asia and Africa together represented 17.5 percent of the world total in 2000 and 21 percent in 2006. The Americas remained steady at around 30 percent, and Oceania a little more than one percent.

  Non-ordained religious numbered 55.057 in the year 2000 and 55,107 in 2006. Comparing this data by continent, Europe showed a strong decline (down by 12.01 percent), as did Oceania (16.83 percent), the Americas remained stable, while Asia and Africa increased (respectively, by 30.63 percent and 8.13 percent).

  Female religious are almost double the number of priests, and 14 times that of non-ordained male religious, but their numbers are falling, from 800,000 in 2000 to 750,000 in 2006. As for their geographical distribution, 42 percent reside in Europe, 28.03 percent in America and 20 percent in Asia. The number of female religious has increased in the most dynamic continents: Africa (up by 15.45 percent) and Asia (up by 12.78 percent).

  The Statistical Yearbook of the Church also includes information on the number of students of philosophy and theology in diocesan and religious seminaries. In global terms, their numbers increased from 110.583 in 2000 to more than 115.000 in 2006, a growth of 4.43 percent. In Africa and Asia their numbers went up whereas Europe saw a reduction of around 16 percent.
.../STATISTICAL YEARBOOK 2007/LEV                VIS 20080527 (510)

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