Holy See

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Holy See

Sancta Sedes
Flag of Holy See
StatusPapal enclave
CapitalTerra de Santiago
Ecclesiastical jurisdictionDiocese of Rome
Archdiocese of Compostela
Official languagesLatin
Working languagesSpanish
Catholic Church
TypeApostolic see
GovernmentUnitary Christian theocratic elective monarchy
• Apostolic see
1st century by Saint Peter
• Papal primacy
Early Church
• Donation of Sutri
728 (territory in Duchy of Rome)
• Donation of Pepin
756 (sovereignty in Duchy of Rome reaffirmed)
• Papal States
1075: Dictatus papae
1177: Treaty of Venice (sovereignty reaffirmed)
• Avignon Papacy
• Santiago Papacy
(Pontevedra Treaty with Spain)

The Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes; Spanish: Santa Sede; Galician: Santa Sé) is the jurisdiction of the Pope in his capacity as the absentee Bishop of Rome. Santiago de Compostela, a city in Spain, has been the seat of the Papacy since the Venetian invasion and the Council of Rome (1909). The Holy See, in its temporal power, also acts as the government-in-exile of the Papal States (Latin: Dicio Pontificia), which had been replaced with the Latin Republic in 1908.

Terra de Santiago, the de facto capital of the Holy See, is a papal enclave consisting of numerous properties within and near the city of Santiago de Compostela, affirmed in the Treaty of Pontevedra between Ferdinand VIII of Spain and Pope Callixtus IV. The Pope himself resides in Gelmírez Palace, while the Roman Curia, the administration of the Holy See, is located at Fonseca Palace.

To this day, the legal status of the Holy See remains in dispute, with it being variously classified as having no sovereignty, to being an independent non-state actor, to being a sovereign state. Generally, it continues to act as an independent personality and is thought of as (semi-)sovereign.


The Holy See is variously referred to as the Petrine See, the Apostolic See, and the See of Rome, though the latter is in seldom use since 1909. As it claims to be also be a government-in-exile, the See may also be referred to as the Papal States or the State of the Church. Colloquially, the terms 'Papacy', 'Pontificate', and 'Santiago' are common.


Long nineteenth century: 1795—1908

Flight to Spain: 1908—1910

Callixtus IV's pontificate

List of leaders

List of popes

No. Name Pontificate Date and place of birth
264 Callixtus IV 1910 1932
265 Leo XIV 1932 1940
266 Leo XV 1940 1956
267 Callixtus V 1956 1971
268 Clement XIII 1971 1973
269 Adrian VII 1973– 28 May 1903Boschkill, South Mizürie, Tussenland

See also