Specific things that are related to the Vatican and the Catholic church have specific terms and names. But some of them are difficult to explain, or people just don’t know what they mean. And people often confuse some terms with the other. They think some things mean something that they don’t.
One of those terms is the Holy See. Today we are going to talk about this term, what does it mean, why is it used, and why is the pope called the Holy See. And the most important part, is it correct to call the pope the Holy See?
The Holy See is called Sancta Sedes in Latin, and Santa Sede in Italian, but it also called the See of Rome, and it basically means the holy chair, or the holy seat. The Holy See is the apostolic episcopal see of the bishop of Rome. And the bishop of Rome is the Pope.
The Holy See is practically the office of the Bishop of Rome or the Pope. But this term also means the Pope and the Roman Curia, the central government of the Roman Catholic Church.
This chair represents the position and the authority that the Holy Father has, and of course the place where he resides in the territory of his jurisdiction. The term originates from the enthronement ceremony of the Pope. And in this case, the Holy See or the Holy Chair refers to the seat of government, but specifically, it refers to the position of the Pope.
The Holy See is celebrated by the Catholic Church on February 22 every year, and that celebration is called the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. But it’s not about the chair itself, it is about the what the chair is symbolizing, and it’s the Holy See, and what the Holy See represents.
The Pope is often called the Holy See, just like the Vatican is referred to as the Holy See. People commonly confuse the Pope with the term Holy See, and it’s something normal because the two terms are used together very often.
But it is important to know that the Holy See is not the Vatican. And the easiest way to understand it is to know that the Vatican City State was established in 1929 with the Lateran Treaty, and the Lateran Treaty was established between the Holy See and Italy. And the treaty was established to ensure the diplomatic and spiritual independence of the Papacy.
Also, the Pope is not the Holy See, he is only representing the Holy See, alongside with other members of the Catholic Church.
So in conclusion, the Holy See is not the Vatican, and it’s not the Pope. The Holy See is the See of Rome, and it is the central government of the Catholic Church, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The Holy See is the sovereign entity of international law headquartered in the distinctively independent Vatican City State.
The apostolic see of Rome or the Holy See was established by Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in the 1st century. And another thing that confuses people is the cathedral that is associated with the Holy See. People often think that the cathedral of the Holy See is the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, but it is not. The cathedral of the Holy See is the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran that is located within the city of Rome.
And the Pope is the supreme pontiff, the Bishop of Rome. He is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. The head of Vatican City, and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.