Holy See

views updated May 17 2018


A term designating Rome as the bishopric of the pope. The word is derived from the Latin sedes, which denotes the seat or residence of the bishop: this is because the bishop's office is symbolized by the chair in which he presides over his people. The word see is accordingly applied to all bishoprics, although it was first used of the Churches founded by Apostles. They would be known further as apostolic or holy sees, in as much as it was the function of the Apostles to mediate Christ's holiness to their flocks. As the titles pope and apostolic see came to be used especially of the bishop of Rome and his see, so too the title holy see was restricted to Rome. In canonical and diplomatic language it now refers to Rome as the bishopric of the pope and to his Curia, the Roman Congregations, tribunals, and offices.

[b. forshaw]

Holy see

views updated May 18 2018

Holy see. A legal entity comprising the pope and his curia, recognized in international law as a sovereign body.