Holy See

Holy See

Sancta Sedes  (Latin)
Santa Sede  (Italian)
Santa Sede  (Spanish)
Saint-Siège  (French)
Flag of
Coat of arms
CapitalVatican City (de facto)
(Extraterritorial properties around Rome, Italy)

41°54.2′N 12°27.2′E / 41°54.2′N 12°27.2′E / 41.9033; 12.4533
Ecclesiastical jurisdictionDiocese of Rome
(universal full communion) Catholic Church
Official languageLatin
Working languagesItalian
French (diplomatic)[1]
TypeApostolic episcopal see of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, head of the worldwide Catholic Church
GovernmentUnitary absolute monarchy[2] under an ecclesiastical[3] and elective[4] theocracy[5]
• Pope
Pietro Parolin
Sovereign subject of international law
1st century by Saint Peter
("Prince of the Apostles")
Early ChurchAntiquity
(Canon law; legal history)
728 (territory in Duchy of Rome by Lombard King Liutprand)
756 (sovereignty in Duchy of Rome reaffirmed by Frankish King Pepin)
1075: Dictatus papae
1177: Treaty of Venice (sovereignty reaffirmed by Emperor Frederick I of the Holy Roman Empire)
(under the Kingdom of Italy)
(Lateran Treaty with Italy)
Coat of arms of the Vatican City.svg
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The Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes, pronounced [ˈsaŋkta ˈsedes]; Italian: Santa Sede), also called the See of Rome, is the apostolic episcopal see of the bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, ex cathedra the universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, and a sovereign entity of international law. Founded in the 1st century by Saints Peter and Paul, by virtue of Petrine and Papal primacy according to Catholic tradition, it is the focal point of full communion for Catholic bishops and Catholics around the world organised in polities of the Latin Church, the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, and their dioceses and religious institutes.

As a recognised sovereign subject of international law, headed by the Pope, the Holy See is headquartered in, operates from, and exercises "exclusive dominion" over the independent Vatican City State enclave in Rome, Italy. The Holy See maintains bilateral diplomatic relations with 172 sovereign states, signs concordats and treaties, and performs multilateral diplomacy with multiple intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations and its agencies, the Council of Europe, the European Communities, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe the Organization of American States and the Organization for African Unity.[6][7][8] The Holy See is administered by the Roman Curia (Latin for Roman Court), similar to a centralised government, with the Cardinal Secretary of State as its chief administrator, in addition to various dicasteries, comparable to ministries and executive departments. Papal elections are carried out by the College of Cardinals.

Although the Holy See is sometimes metonymically referred to as the "Vatican", the Vatican City State was distinctively established with the Lateran Treaty (1929) between the Holy See and Italy to ensure the temporal, diplomatic, and spiritual independence of the Papacy. As such, ambassadors are officially accredited to the Holy See and not the Vatican City State. Conversely, Papal nuncios to states and international organisations are recognised as representing the Holy See and the integrity of the Catholic Church along with its 1.3 billion members, not the Vatican City State, as prescribed also in the Canon law of the Catholic Church (1983).[9] The "Holy See" thus refers to the See of Rome viewed as the central government of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, in turn, is the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world,[10] while the diplomatic status of the Holy See facilitates the access of its vast international network of charities.


The papal throne (cathedra), in the apse of Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, symbolises the Holy See.

The word "see" comes from the Latin word "sedes", meaning "seat", which refers to the Episcopal throne (cathedra). The term "Apostolic See" can refer to any see founded by one of the Apostles, but, when used with the definite article, it is used in the Catholic Church to refer specifically to the see of the Bishop of Rome, whom that Church sees as successor of Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles.[11] While Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City is perhaps the church most associated with the Papacy, the actual cathedral of the Holy See is the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran within the city of Rome.[note 1]

Every see is considered holy. In Greek, the adjective "holy" or "sacred" (ἱερά transliterated as hiera) is constantly applied to all such sees as a matter of course. In the West, the adjective is not commonly added, but it does form part of an official title of two sees: besides the Diocese of Rome ("the Holy See"), the Bishopric of Mainz (the former Archbishopric of Mainz, which was also of electoral and primatial rank) bears the title of "the Holy See of Mainz" (Latin: Sancta Sedes Moguntina).[12]

Other Languages
aragonés: Santa Seu
asturianu: Santa Sede
Bân-lâm-gú: Sèng-chō
беларуская: Святы Прастол
български: Свети престол
bosanski: Sveta Stolica
català: Santa Seu
Cebuano: Balaang Sede
čeština: Svatý stolec
eesti: Püha Tool
Ελληνικά: Αγία Έδρα
español: Santa Sede
Esperanto: Apostola Seĝo
فارسی: سریر مقدس
français: Saint-Siège
Gaeilge: An Suí Naofa
galego: Santa Sé
hrvatski: Sveta Stolica
Bahasa Indonesia: Takhta Suci
interlingua: Sancte Sede
íslenska: Páfastóll
italiano: Santa Sede
עברית: הכס הקדוש
Kapampangan: Santa Sede
Kiswahili: Ukulu mtakatifu
Latina: Sancta Sedes
latviešu: Svētais Krēsls
Malti: Santa Sede
Bahasa Melayu: Takhta Suci
Nederlands: Heilige Stoel
日本語: 聖座
norsk nynorsk: Den heilage stolen
occitan: Santa Ses
پنجابی: پوتر کرسی
português: Santa Sé
română: Sfântul Scaun
Scots: Haly See
Simple English: Holy See
slovenčina: Svätá stolica
slovenščina: Sveti sedež
српски / srpski: Света столица
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sveta stolica
svenska: Heliga stolen
Türkçe: Kutsal Makam
українська: Святий Престол
vèneto: Santa Sede
Tiếng Việt: Tòa Thánh
Winaray: Santa Sede
吴语: 聖座
粵語: 聖座
中文: 聖座