Vatican Tourism: Audiences and American Visitors by Todd Rutherford

When traveling to Europe with its many fascinating attractions, the Vatican remains a must-see destination for many. The path to the Vatican is always a well-traveled one among tourists, celebrities, presidents, and other high-ranking officials. In America and the Vatican: Trading Information After World War II, former Foreign Services Officer and charge d’affaires Robert Illing describes a wide range of people that have visited Rome and the Vatican.

Illing states, “While in Rome I was asked to arrange audiences for literally hundreds of American officials or important citizens, ranging from several Apollo astronauts like Michael Collins, to cabinet members like Treasury Secretary John Connally.” Moreover, wives of war prisoners, senators, prominent Puerto Ricans, Cesar Chavez, and many other important figures have traveled to the Vatican to seek an audience with the Pope.

Furthermore, Illing touts the arrival of American automobile inventor Dr. Giovanni Dotto as one of the most interesting Vatican visitors. Using thermal magnetism, Dotto proposed that his Dotto Ring Device could cure anything from mental illness to cancer. Robert Illing states that one of the fortunate perks of his job was that, while arranging these visits and audiences, he was able to meet many of these auspicious visitors himself.

All in all, there are three major types of papal audiences: general, special, and private. The general audience is massive, ranging up to several thousand people; the special audience usually is a brief, stand-up meeting; the private meetings are exclusive and held in the Pope’s library or office.

Millions of people travel to the Vatican every year-some for business, some with their passion for the arts, some for their interest in Vatican architecture, and others just for sightseeing. The Vatican remains a tourist hotspot, especially among American tourists.

The Lodge Mission and the impressive work of Robert Illing have been instrumental in organizing audiences and forming a much needed diplomatic link between America and the Vatican. Illing’s America and the Vatican is a must read for anyone considering a trip to the Vatican, as the intriguing information it supplies will surely enrich the trip abroad.

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