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About the Holy See

Vatican Background Information

Independence: Lateran Pacts regulating independence and sovereignty of the Holy See were signed with Italy on February 11, 1929. The whole ministry which rules the Catholic Church is called the Holy See. The Embassy works closely with the Roman Curia which is the central government of the Vatican City State. The official title of the mission is the Canadian Embassy to the Holy See.

  • Vatican City:
    St-Peter's Basilica, the Apostolic Palace and the Vatican Museum
  • Area:
    44 hectares
  • Boundaries:
    3 km
  • Holy See State:
    Vatican City in addition to other extra-territorial locations: 13 other buildings located in Rome but outside the walls of the Vatican; the summer Papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome; pontifical shrines in Pompei, Loreto and Bari.
  • Population:
    Around 300 clergy, essentially Curia members; approximately 3,000 lay workers residing outside the Vatican.
  • Languages:
    Latin (official); French (diplomatic); Italian is the main working language.
  • Government:
    Monarchy type; the Pope has full executive, legislative and judicial powers in both the pastoral government (Holy See) and civil government (Vatican City State).
  • Head of State:
    The Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness Pope Francis, born on December 17th, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina; elected on March 13, 2013; pontifical inauguration March 19, 2013.


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