The Vatican City State governate has opened a new internet portal, to meet the needs of the ever-increasing numbers of pilgrims and tourists, and to respond to what it calls "the continuous requests for information reaching the various offices of Vatican State though the traditional channels".
The new website, which will run alongside the official Catholic Holy See one, has been established in five different languages (Italian, English, French, Spanish and German) with Portuguese soon to be added.
Through its five sections (State and Government, Services, Other Institutions, Monuments and Shop) the portal "presents the State's bodies, the key monuments with descriptions and images, and useful time schedules for the public" says an English-language communique from the Vatican Information Service.
The site also offers a photo tour of the Vatican Gardens, as well as giving real time access via five webcams to some of the most famous sights: the dome of St Peter's, St Peter's Square, a panoramic view of Rome, the tomb of late Pope John Paul II and the palace of the governorate.
Visitors to the site will soon also be able to purchase Vatican coins, stamps and other articles available from the Vatican Museum's publications and reproductions sales office" - opening up a valuable revenu stream.
The Vatican has influence at the United Nations and in other world counsels, leading to criticism that the Pope and select leaders of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics have too much concentrated lobbying power.