Villanovans Design Virtual Reality Tours for The Vatican

As part of a one-of-a-kind Vatican internship program, Villanova students produced a virtual reality tour of the Basilica of St. Paul, with more online tours to come

Villanova students are also contributing to the Vatican’s growing presence in social media, including YouTube and Facebook

For Immediate Release
August 3, 2009

VILLANOVA, Pa., August 3, 2009 – Never before has the world had a view of Rome’s great basilicas like they do now, thanks to Villanova University students who are creating virtual reality tours for the Vatican. Anyone with access to a computer can tour some of Italy's most historic cathedrals with just a click of the mouse. The first online tour, showcasing the Basilica of St. Paul, was recently launched on the Vatican’s Web site: www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm. Villanova students are currently working on other virtual reality tours for the Vatican, including the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.

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Through this unique internship program, Villanova University students are helping change the way the Vatican communicates with the rest of the world, using the internet, multi-media technology and social media. In fact, Villanova is the only college or University with a formal, on-going relationship with the Vatican – and the role of our students interning there continues to grow.

This year, Villanova began sending communication students to the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, where they focus on media and public relations, as well as social media. These students have been integral in putting the Pope on YouTube and Facebook and helping drive Vatican communication, via social media, to new levels. In fact, it was a Villanova student who came up with the idea to publicize the Pope’s 2009 World Communication Day message by way of Facebook in order to reach a younger audience.

“In what other internship program can students create multimedia content for the Vatican Web site and help distribute important Papal messages to an international audience?,” said Bryan Crable, chair of the Villanova University Communication Department. “Our Vatican interns leave Villanova with an experience that sets them apart from their peers.”

Villanova started this internship program in 2003, sending computing science students to the Internet Office of the Holy See. Since then, the role of Villanova students in the Vatican has broadened to include communication majors and the University’s involvement in the content that the Vatican distributes continues to grow.

This year, a Villanova student also interned for the first time in the Rome bureau of Catholic News Service (CNS), writing and blogging for CNS on events and news happening around the Vatican. In addition, Villanova students continue to work in the Vatican's Internet Office of the Holy See and Telecommunications Office of the Holy See.

Villanova’s Vatican Internship Program is made possible through a generous gift from Lawrence Waterhouse, a 1959 graduate of Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of TD Waterhouse Investor Services, Inc.

Villanova University, a co-educational Roman Catholic institution, was founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. A premier institution of higher education, Villanova provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts; a shared commitment to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity and love; and a community dedicated to service to others. A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the University’s four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova School of Law. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.