Holy See


Popes in their secular role ruled portions of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid-19th century, when many of the Papal States were seized by the newly united Kingdom of Italy. In 1870, the pope’s holdings were further circumscribed when Rome itself was annexed. Disputes between a series of “prisoner” popes and Italy were resolved in 1929 by three Lateran Treaties, which established the independent state of Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy.


In 1984, a concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified certain of the earlier treaty provisions, including the primacy of Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion. Present concerns of the Holy See include religious freedom, international development, the environment, the Middle East, China, the decline of religion in Europe, terrorism, interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, and the application of church doctrine in an era of rapid change and globalization. About one billion people worldwide profess the Catholic faith.


Location: Southern Europe, an enclave of Rome (Italy)
Geographic coordinates: 41 54 N, 12 27 E
Population: 836 (July 2012 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.004% (2012 est.)
Country name: conventional long form: The Holy See (State of the Vatican City)

conventional short form: Holy See (Vatican City)

local long form: Santa Sede (StatodellaCitta del Vaticano)

local short form: Santa Sede (Citta del Vaticano)

Government type: ecclesiastical
Capital: name: Vatican City

geographic coordinates: 41 54 N, 12 27 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Telephones – main lines in use: 5,120 (2005)
Telephone system: general assessment: automatic digital exchange

domestic: connected via fibre optic cable to Telecom Italia network

international: country code – 39; uses Italian system

Military branches: Pontifical Swiss Guard (Corpodella Guardia SvizzeraPontificia) (2010)
Military – note: defence is the responsibility of Italy; ceremonial and limited security duties performed by Pontifical Swiss Guard


This unique, non-commercial economy is supported financially by an annual contribution (known as Peter’s Pence) from Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the world; by the sale of postage stamps, coins, medals, and tourist mementos; by fees for admission to museums; and by the sale of publications. Investments and real estate income also account for a sizable portion of revenue. The incomes and living standards of lay workers are comparable to those of counterparts who work in the city of Rome.