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Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History

10/11/2009 - 15:27 PST

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Holy See, Prince Charles sought to establish an independent diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Monaco. One of the first steps Prince Charles III initiated with respect to asserting the independent sovereignty of Monaco was to enter into negotiations with Pope Pius IX (1846-1878), to establish an independent Roman Catholic ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the Principality.

Since the Principality of Monaco was a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Aix-en-Provence at the time of the signing of the Treaty of 1861 between Monaco and France, the first step to an independent diocese was to petition Pope Pius IX for the Principality to be separated from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the French Bishop of Nice (the August 2, 1860 Treaty of Turin ceded the Italian counties of Savoy and Nice to France for four million francs).
This ecclesiastical partitioning was officially affirmed by the Decree of the Consistorial Congregation of April 30, 1868. This ecclesiastical diplomatic decree authorized and forever severed the Principality of Monaco from the ecclesiastical authority of the French Bishop of Nice and granted the Principality of Monaco the status of an independent abbey (nullius) directly dependent on the Holy See. The Bull of March 15, 1887, promulgated by Pope Leo III, raised the abbey of Monaco, dedicated to Saints Nicholas and Benedict, to the stature of an independent diocese.

On July 30, 1981, by the pontifical bull “Ad Perpetram Resi Memoriam” Pope John Paul II raised the episcopal see of Monaco to that of an archdiocese, and named Archbishop Charles Amarin Brand as Monaco’s first archbishop. However, there was a cost to the Principality for this elevation of Monaco’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction--Prince Rainier III had to relinquish all privileges and prerogatives with respect to the selection of clergy in Monaco. Monaco has had three archbishops since promulgation of the Bull of 1981. The present archbishop is H.E. Archbishop Bernard Cesar Augustin Barsi who was appointed by Pope John Paul II on May 16, 2000, by the papal bull “Pro Apostolico Nostro munere.” The ecclesiastical seat of the Archbishop in Monaco is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, also dedicated to St. Nicholas.

To view the website of the Archdiocese of Monaco go to to view the website of the Cathedral visit:

In addition to establishing an independent ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the Principality of Monaco, Prince Charles III also sought to affirm the independence and sovereignty of the Principality of Monaco by establishing diplomatic legations with other sovereign states. The Principality of Monaco is one of a handful of states along with France and Spain (formerly known as the “Catholic States”), to boast one of the longest terms of diplomatic relations with the Holy See. According to unverified open sources, in the late 1860’s the Principality of Monaco, under the leadership of Prince Charles III, established formal diplomatic legations with France, Italy and the Holy See. According to one website providing a comprehensive listing of diplomatic representatives of sovereign states to the Holy See however the Principality of Monaco had a diplomatic representative accredited with the rank of “minister plenipotentiary” to the Holy See at least since 1912. The information is accredited as derived from the Annuario Pontificio, the official yearbook of the Apostolic See which includes a section citing the names and dates of pontifical ecclesiastical diplomatic representatives, or apostolic nuncios, of the Holy See sent abroad and the ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary of other nations accredited to the Holy See. This website, in German, lists from 1912 to the present the diplomatic representatives of Monaco to the Holy See. These representatives are listed as follows:
1915 - 1918 Beauftragter Graf Maggiorino Capello
1920 - 1932 Beauftragter Graf Renato de Fontarce
1933 - 1947 Beauftragter Emilio Lorenzo Dard
1947 - 1957 Beauftragter Francesco Gentil
1957 - 1982 Beauftragter César Charles Solamito
1982 - 1997 Botschafter César Charles Solamito
1999 -. . . . Botschafter Jean-Claude Michel
(*Note: “beauftragter” is German for “representative, and “botschafter” is German for “ambassador”.)

2007 marked a special anniversary with respect to Monaco’s diplomatic relationship with the Holy See. June 14, 2007, marked the 25th anniversary of the elevation, on 14 June 1982, by the Prince Rainier III and Pope John Paul II of Monaco’s diplomatic relations with the Holy See, from that of a delegation to that of an embassy with ambassadorial rank and privileges. Although Monaco has had a diplomatic legation accredited to the Holy See in Rome since the late 19th century, this diplomatic legation was of a passive ...

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