The Diplomatic Corps accredited with the Holy See is different from the Diplomatic Corps accredited with the Italian State, by virtue of the Lateran Pacts of 11 February 1929, with which Italy recognised “the sovereignty of the Holy See in the international sphere” (art. 2), its “full ownership and exclusive dominion and sovereign jurisdiction over the Vatican” (art. 3).

Nevertheless, diplomatic agents in mission to the Holy See are granted the same treatment in terms of immunities and privileges, even when the sending State is not recognised by the Italian Republic, but only by the Holy See.

  • The Pope is the Head of State, and is elected for life
  • According to the Vatican ceremonial lay persons can hold some important offices, but in the order of precedence the rank of clergy is higher, as seen in the Vatican’s Pontifical Yearbook
  • The diplomatic representative of the Holy See is the Apostolic Nuncio

The Italian Embassy to the Holy See handles many of the communications and relations between the Vatican’s diplomatic agents and Italy’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

See also: Vatican Factsheet