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The Holy See ">[ˈsaŋkta ˈsɛdes]) is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, the episcopal see of the Pope, and an independent sovereign entity. It serves as the central point of reference for the Catholic Church everywhere and the focal point of communion due to its position as the pre-eminent episcopal see of the universal church. It traces its origin to the 1st century during the apostolic era, when Saint Peter arrived in Rome to evangelise and formed a significant early Christian community of believers there. Today, it is responsible for the governance of all Catholics, organised in their Particular Churches, Patriarchates and religious institutes.

Sancta Sedes
Gules, two keys in saltire or and argent, interlaced in the rings or, beneath a tiara argent, crowned or
Emblem
Jurisdiction Vatican City
Various extraterritorial premises in Rome, Italy
Official language Latin
Working languages Italian
French (diplomatic)
Type Episcopal see of the Pope as the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church
Leaders
• Pope
Francis
Pietro Parolin
Website
Vatican.va
Coat of arms Holy See.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Holy See
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046CupolaSPietro.jpg Catholicism portal

The Holy See (Italian: Santa Sede; Latin: Sancta Sedes; [ˈsaŋkta ˈsɛdes]) is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, the episcopal see of the Pope, and an independent sovereign entity. It serves as the central point of reference for the Catholic Church everywhere and the focal point of communion due to its position as the pre-eminent episcopal see of the universal church. It traces its origin to the 1st century during the apostolic era, when Saint Peter arrived in Rome to evangelise and formed a significant early Christian community of believers there. Today, it is responsible for the governance of all Catholics, organised in their Particular Churches, Patriarchates and religious institutes.

As an independent sovereign entity, holding the Vatican City enclave in Rome as sovereign territory, it maintains diplomatic relations with other states. It is viewed as analogous to a state while administered by the Roman Curia (Latin for Roman Court), similar to a centralised government with the Cardinal Secretary of State as its chief administrator, and various dicasteries, comparable to ministries and executive departments.

Diplomatically, the Holy See acts and speaks for the whole church. It is also recognised by other subjects of international law as a sovereign entity, headed by the Pope, with which diplomatic relations can be maintained. Often informally referred to as "the Vatican", the "Holy See" is not the same entity as the "Vatican City State", which came into existence only in 1929 because of the Lateran Treaty; the Holy See, the episcopal see of Rome, dates back to antiquity. Ambassadors are officially accredited not to the Vatican City State but to "the Holy See", and Papal representatives to states and international organizations are recognized as representing the Holy See, not the Vatican City State. The creation of the Vatican City state was meant to ensure the diplomatic and spiritual independence of the Pope.

Though all episcopal sees may be considered holy, the expression "the Holy See" (without further specification) is normally used in international relations (and in the canon law of the Catholic Church) to refer to the See of Rome viewed as the central government of the Catholic Church.

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