The Holy See (
Italian: Santa Sede;
Latin: Sancta Sedes; Ecclesiastical Latin:
[ˈsaŋkta ˈsedes]), also referred to as the See of Rome, is the
ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the
Catholic Church in
episcopal see of the
Pope, and an independent
sovereign entity. It serves as the
central point of reference for the Catholic Church everywhere and the focal point of
communion due to its position as the
pre-eminent episcopal see of the universal church. Today, it is responsible for the
governance of all Catholics, organised in their
As an independent
sovereign entity, holding the
Rome as an independent state, it maintains
diplomatic relations with other states. It is viewed as analogous to a state while administered by the
Roman Curia (Latin for Roman Court), similar to a
centralised government with the
Cardinal Secretary of State as its
chief administrator, and various
dicasteries, comparable to
ministries and executive departments.
Diplomatically, the Holy See acts and speaks for the whole church. It is also recognised by other subjects of international law as a
sovereign entity, headed by the Pope, with which
diplomatic relations can be maintained.
 Although it is often informally referred to as "the Vatican", the "Holy See" is not the same entity as the "Vatican City State", which came into existence only in 1929 because of the
Lateran Treaty; the Holy See, the
episcopal see of Rome, dates back to antiquity. Ambassadors are officially accredited not to the Vatican City State but to "the Holy See", and
Papal representatives to states and international organizations are recognized as representing the Holy See, not the Vatican City State. The creation of the Vatican City State was meant to ensure the diplomatic and spiritual independence of the Pope.
The expression "the Holy See" (without further specification) is normally used in international relations (and in the
canon law of the Catholic Church)
 to refer to the See of Rome viewed as the central government of the Catholic Church.