(Latin vaticanus, from vates canunt: the soothsayers proclaim) In antiquity, the mons vaticanus was a religious site associated with the taking of auguries and auspices; it was at the end of the circus of Nero; and since it was outside the original city walls, it was appropriate as a necropolis to which the Christians brought their dead, many of whom had been persecuted in the nearby circus. Among those interred here was St. Peter, and so the Basilica of St. Peter was built atop his grave. Since the end of the Avignon captivity in 1377, the Vatican has served as the chief residence of the Popes, and so the term "Vatican" often serves to denote the Holy See, the papal provenance of Church policies or pronouncements. Located within the Vatican are most of the offices of the Papal Curia, the residences of some cardinals and other Church officials, the Swiss Guard, and the Vatican Museums and Library.
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