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

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BOSTON, MA (October 11, 2009) - The Government of Monaco has announced that the next stop for the exposition entitled "The Grace Kelly Years, Princess of Monaco" will be Rome,Italy between October 16th 2009 and February 28th 2010. This outstanding exposition featuring Monaco's iconic Princess will take up quarters in the Palazzo Ruspoli from October 16th 2009 to February 28th 2010. This prestigious venue in the heart of the Eternal City operates under the auspices of the Memmo Foundation. The exposition will occupy several floors, giving visitors ample opportunity to relive the years during which an exceptional woman reached myth status while living out her extraordinary destiny, that of a Hollywood actress become Princess of Monaco. The official inauguration of the exposition will be held on October 15th at 6 P.M., in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II. A press conference followed by a visit to the exposition is scheduled on October 14th at noon.

To celebrate the arrival of this special exhibition from the Catholic sovereign state of the Principality of Monaco to the Eternal City which is host to the State of Vatican City, the world headquartes of the Roman Catholic ecclesial nation-state of the Universal Church of Rome,a diplomatic history of Monegasque-Holy See relations has been written to highlight the historical friendship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy See, and the Principality of Monaco, which has the Catholic religion as the official religion of state. Some versions of this article include photos of Prince Rainier III, Princess Grace and Prince Albert II in their respective visits to the Roman Pontiffs from Pope Pius XII to Pope Benedict XVI.


*Unless otherwise noted the Monegasque history cited in this article has been taken from The History of the Principality of Monaco As Seen Through Its Postage Stamps, H. Chiavassa, Monaco Postage Stamp Issuing Office 1964.

Above photo of Prince Rainier III & Pope John Paul II IN 1997 Courtesy of the following internet site:

The Roman Catholic constitutional and hereditary monarchy of the Principality of Monaco, and the papal constitutional monarchy of the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical nation-state of the Universal Church of Rome (U.C.R.), governed by the entity known as the Apostolic (or Holy) See, and headquartered in the State of Vatican City in Rome, Italy, although distinctly separate sovereign states, share a very uniquely historical ecclesio-cultural symbiosis that has become a rare gem in the highly secular socio-cultural geo-political era of 21st century Europe.

In this regard, it is important to highlight that 2007 marked two anniversaries of ecclesiastical significance to the Principality of Monaco and the Holy See. The first anniversary to note is that on 15 March 2007, the Principality of Monaco and the Holy See marked the 120th anniversary of the papal Bull promulgated on March 15, 1887 by Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), titled "Quemadmodum Sollicitus Pastor," which established the first independent diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the Principality. The request for this Bull by Pop Leo XIII was one of a diversity of efforts by H.S.H. Prince Charles III of Monaco (1856-1889) to assert the spiritual and moral interests of his subjects in the aftermath of the signing of the February 2, 1861 Agreement between the French Empire and the Principality of Monaco. The Treaty of 1861 of Monaco with France formally recognized for the first time in three centuries the official independence and sovereignty of Monaco under the exclusive authority of its sovereign head, and gave the prince the status of "Most Serene Highness," (until the 1861 treaty the head of Monaco had only been addressed as "Highness" in treaties) . Moreover, Monaco was freed from any link whatever with a protecting power, with the exception of France. Monaco promised France not to cede all or part of the principality to any power other than France, and in application of the treaty Monaco executed a customs union with France on November 9, 1865.

Thus, in effort to affirm the independence and sovereignty of the Principality granted it by the Treaty of 1861, Prince Charles III of Monaco strategized a diversity of means to effect the sovereign independence of the Principality. In addition to the minting of Monegasque coins, the issuance of the first Monegasque stamps and the dispatch of accredited diplomatic agents of Monaco to other countries, especially the Catholic countries of the France, Italy and the 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 diplomatic nature--the Holy see did not in turn send a diplomatic representative to the Principality--until 2006, and was not at the ambassadorial level. "Passive" diplomatic relations are diplomatic relations where a sovereign state (i.e., Monaco) sends an accredited agent to another sovereign state (i.e., the Holy See), but the sending state (i.e., Monaco) does not receive in turn an accredited diplomatic agent of the receiving sovereign state (i.e., the Holy See), to be permanently resident in its own sovereign territory. The type of diplomatic relations where a sovereign state both sends and receives an accredited diplomatic agent to be permanently resident in its own sovereign territory is known as "active' diplomatic relations.

On July 25, 1981, the Holy See and Monaco signed a convention which renewed the deep friendship between the government and people of the Principality of Monaco and the Roman Catholic Universal Church of Rome. Mr. Cesar Charles Solamito, who was one of the authors of the July 1981 Convention was appointed the first ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Principality of Monaco to the Holy See by Prince Rainier III on June 10, 1982, thirteen months after the July 1981 convention with the Holy See was signed, and served in this capacity until 1997. In 1999, the role of ambassador of Monaco to the Holy See was assumed by H.E. Ambassador Jean Claude Michel of Monaco. H.E. Jean Claude Michel, who presented his credentials to Pope John Paul II on 20 May 1999, is the second, and current ambassador of Monaco to the Holy See. It is interesting to note that, in his exchange of diplomatic greetings with Ambassador Michel in May 1999, Pope John Paul II recalled his last meeting with the late Prince Rainier III of Monaco on 19 December 1997, the year Monaco commemorated the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi dynasty.

Despite the diplomatic merits of the 1981 convention between Monaco and the Holy See of elevating the rank and stature of Monaco's representation to the Holy See, the Holy See would not appoint an apostolic nuncio or ambassadorial-level pontifical ecclesiastical diplomatic representative to the Principality until 2006. This change of the Holy See from a passive legation with the Principality to an active legation was due to a change included in the Principality's new treaty signed in October 2002 with France, replacing the treaty of 1918, that permitted the Principality to establish sovereign diplomatic legations or embassies with representatives holding ambassadorial rank in accordance with the UN Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations promulgated in April 1961--a convention which will mark its 50th anniversary in April 2011. The new treaty between the Principality of Monaco and France was ratified in 2005 and published in the Journal Officiel dated Oct 14, 2005.

Despite having an official Monegasque diplomatic legation at the Holy See, for at least seventy years, from 1915 to 1982, with the Monegasque diplomatic representative only holding the rank of "minister plenipotentiary," and notwithstanding the fact that Pope John Paul II visited France seven times, and never visited the Principality proper, the historic friendly relations shared between the Catholic Principality of Monaco and the Holy See prompted the heads of state of the Principality of Monaco to make repeated visits to the Roman Pontiff at the State of Vatican City over the years. Starting in 1957, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco visited the Vatican State on several occasions to pay their sovereign respect to the Vicar of Christ in the person of the Roman Pontiff. Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace were received by Popes Pius XII on May 6, 1957. Their audience with Pope Pius XII is given some mention in the May 13, 1957 issue of Time magazine,

"The Vatican's Swiss guards, rigged for the occasion in shiny steel breastplates over their blue and gold uniforms, sprang to attention (medieval form, feet splayed) to greet Monaco's Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace on their official visit to Pope Pius XII. Their private audience marked Grace's first meeting with His Holiness. The Pope advised the sovereigns to adhere to an "irreproachable faithfulness to the dictates of Catholic morals." Grace should have many children, said Pius, "so as to secure a healthy Monegasque reigning line, for the good of Monaco's people."

A short black and white film titled, "Princess Grace Visits Pope (1957)" is available for viewing of the audience with Pope Pius XIII on the internet at: Their Serene Highnesses also met with Popes John Paul I and John Paul II in 1978. Select film footage of these diplomatic state visits by Catholic sovereigns, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco to the Roman Pontiffs at the Vatican was included as special visual accoutrements in the "Official State Visits" segment of Monaco's 2007 international exhibition titled, "The Grace Kelly Years: Princess of Monaco Exhibit" honoring the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Grace of Monaco in September 1982.

The deaths of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005, followed by the death of Prince Rainier III four days later on April 6, 2005, and assumption of the role of ruling head of state by, heir apparent and hereditary prince, Prince Albert II of Monaco, only more resolutely affirmed the close friendship between the Principality of Monaco and the Holy See throughout history. Thus, it is understandable that one of the first official visits Prince Albert II of Monaco would desire to conduct would be to extend his fidelity, loyalty and respect to the new Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, who assumed office as the 265th Roman Pontiff and sovereign head of state of the Universal Church of Rome on April 19, 2005. Prince Albert II was received in audience by Pope Benedict XVI on December 5, 2005--his first official visit with the Roman Pontiff, as the sovereign head of state of the Principality of Monaco.

Since the commencement of his sovereign reign as constitutional monarch of the Principality of Monaco, Prince Albert II of Monaco has shown an enduring and determinate interest in further developing and upgrading Monaco's global diplomatic stature in accordance with the sovereign diplomatic rights and privileges accorded to the Principality by the French Government in the 2002 treaty.
Subsequent to this advancement of the diplomatic rule of law in the Principality's treaty history the Principality of Monaco promptly commenced to upgrade its diplomatic legations with the United States, which had previously only maintained consular relations with the Principality. Other states with which the Principality promptly advanced its diplomatic relations from consulates to embassies include France, Italy and the Holy See, among many others.

The Principality, had, as previously stated, since the 19th century maintained only a passive legation to the Holy See, without reciprocity.In accordance with its sovereign right to now more freely engage in both active and passive formal diplomatic relations, the Principality of Monaco expanded its diplomatic relations with the Holy See to include the erection of a representational apostolic nunciature of the Holy See in the Principality. In 2006, the Holy See reaffirmed its historical diplomatic friendship with the official Roman Catholic Principality of Monaco and for the first time in history accredited an apostolic nuncio to the Principality resident in Belgium. H.E. Archbishop Andre Dupuy was appointed the first apostolic nuncio to the Principality of Monaco on July 11, 2006, with residence in Brussels, and coterminous accreditation to the EU in Brussels.

The Catholic heads of state of the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI, and the Principality of Monaco, Prince Albert II, and their respective appointed diplomatic representatives, continue to work together as Catholic leaders and moral diplomatic power-brokers on the international plane to uphold and defend the precepts of the Roman Catholic Church in the world--especially that of the universal protection of international social developmental and economic human rights and international environmental protection. In 2010, the Principality of Monaco will mark the 100th anniversary of Monaco's Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium founded in 1910 by Prince Albert I with its hosting of the 2010 Monaco Ocean Summit. The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium of Monaco, and the establishment by Prince Albert II of "The Prince Albert II Foundation" (see its website at:, to promote global study, analysis and protection of the environment--especially the marine environment-- epitomizes humanity's requirement to facilitate "peace with God the Creator, and peace with all creation"-- a philosophy publicly affirmed by Pope John Paul II. The marine-based protective mission and work of Monaco's Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium, educating the world about advancements in marine science and technology, and the challenges and controversies of international marine environmental affairs, such as the human impact of climate change, has endured for nearly one hundred years and is a continuing initiative for both the Holy See and the Principality.

The Principality's distinctive achievements in marine-environmental diplomacy include establishing a permanent home for the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency's Marine Environmental Laboratory (IAEA-MEL) in 1998. The IAEA-MEL is the only network of marine laboratories within the United Nation's system, and was first housed in Monaco's Oceanographic Museum. The IAEA-MEL consists of three laboratories within the IAEA's Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications specializing in radiometrics, radioecology and marine environmental studies. The IAEA-MEL was originally founded in 1961 as "International Laboratory of Marine Radioactivity" (ILMR) to confront "issues of marine radioactivity" and to study "nuclear residues in the marine environment attributed to nuclear testing". Since its founding in 1961, the ILMR, renamed "The Marine Environmental Laboratory" in 1991, has been providing technical assistance to other UN agencies, and UN member states "facing threats to their lakes, seas, and coastal waters." According to the IAEA-MEL's internet webpage description of its objectives, the "primary aims of the IAEA-MEL are to help [UN] member states understand, monitor and protect the marine environment and to co-ordinate technical aspects of international ocean protection, training and assistance programmes". It is also of interest to note that, coincidentally, in 2011, the year following the 2010 centennial of the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium of Monaco, the IAEA's Marine Environment Laboratory in Monaco will commemorate its 50th anniversary.

These distinguishing marine-based accomplishments by the Catholic Principality of Monaco in the field of environmental protection not only aptly recall Pope John Paul the Great's pontifical ecclesiastical diplomatic and figurative oceanic-spiritual exhortation, "duc in altum ("put out into the deep") , but they also highlight and give deeper resonance and important pastoral significance to the often neglected ship/lake-side/sea-side teaching ministry of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and serve as a living witness and testament to the moral dedication and sustaining commitment that the Holy See's pontifical ecclesiastical diplomatic representatives and Catholic sovereign leaders must have to ecclesiastical marine/environmental-based, and international human rights ecology-based diplomacy.

The Holy See's Compendium on the Social Doctrine of the Church, published in 2004, by the Roman Curia's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace--the ecclesiastical and international human rights rule of law compliance, oversight and enforcement dicastery of the Universal Church of Rome--dedicates a whole chapter, Chapter Ten, to the subject of "Safeguarding the Environment." Through his international diplomatic leadership in the field of marine environmental protection, Prince Albert II, and the diplomatic civil servants of the Roman Catholic Principality of Monaco assist the Holy See, the United Nations and other international, governmental and non-governmental organizations in promoting the Church's ecclesio-faith-based message of a moral and socio-politically correct stewardship of creation and the Church's ecclesiology of an ethical socio-ecological environmental human rights diplomacy. Notwithstanding the above, however, both the Holy See and the Principality of Monaco need to examine their institutional commitments to the regulatory oversight, transparent compliance/accountability and punitive enforcement of ecclesiastical and international human rights.

Despite the global rhetoric by papal diplomatic representatives with respect to the Church's commitment to international human rights--including ecological human rights-- the Universal Church of Rome's governing entity, the Holy See, has never erected a national pontifical ecclesiastical human rights enforcement institution and continues to possess the sustaining void of a national ecclesiastical human rights institution or a pontifical ecclesiastical human rights court for the adjudication of ecclesiastical human rights violations within the Roman Curia's bureaucratic structure, headquartered at the Vatican State. The Catholic Principality of Monaco is guilty of the same state of affairs--with the exception that the Government of Monaco has not been as publicly forthcoming in readily affirming its fiduciary obligations and commitment of compliance with both Catholic ecclesiastical and international human rights rules of law. In its May 2009 Human Rights Periodic Review of Nations, the UN Human Rights Council faulted the Principality for not yet having established a high-governmental level independent and autonomous national human rights institution with legal enforcement powers in accordance with the Paris Principles. Perhaps if the officially Catholic Principality had erected a government-level national human rights institution prior to the UN's May human rights non-compliance finding, and held a national referendum on the liberalization of abortion issue (although I searched, I could not find evidence on the internet, in French or English, that a referendum had been held by the Government of Monaco on the abortion issue), Monaco's National Council (composed no doubt of a representational percentage of "loyal Catholic" Monegasque citizens) would not have resulted in a unanimous April 2009, 26-0 vote, just one month prior to the UN's finding, in May 2009, liberalizing Monaco's heretofore strict abortion law. Herein lies a travesty of moral ethics.

Both the Holy See and Principality would do well to redirect their concern for the environment, and the critical social-humanitarian implications thereof, and use some of their energy to establish and implement firm and effective government-level national human rights enforcement mechanisms that provide for the regulatory oversight and transparent compliance and accountability of national and international human rights issues. This redirection of assets to human rights issues--including environmental and ecological human rights issues-- would be a critical advancement in environmental human rights diplomacy for both the Principality and the Holy See. This redirection of government assets by the Principality and the Holy See towards comprehensive--national and international-- human rights rule of law compliance and punitive enforcement would greatly assist in realizing within these sovereign states a necessary balance of moral diplomatic excellence in international human rights justice, environmental and ecological security, and foremost the harmonious social and sustainable development and peaceful co-habitation of the global human family-- both with Nature and with God.

In his September 10, 2009, remarks made at Castel Gandolfo to a group of sponsors of the Holy See's Pavilion at the 2008 Zaragoza Expo--an international exposition held in Spain last year on the theme, "Water and Sustainable Development" offering a reflection on the divine and human elements of water-- Pope Benedict stated,"Today more than ever people must be helped to see in creation something more than a simple source of wealth or exploitation in man's hands."

He continued, "The truth is that when God, through creation, gave man the keys to the earth, he wanted him to use this great gift responsibly and respectfully, making it fruitful."

"The human being discovers the intrinsic value of nature if he learns to see it for what it really is, the expression of a plan of love and truth that speaks to us of the Creator and of his love for humanity, which will find its fulfillment in Christ, at the end of time," the Pontiff affirmed.

"In this context," Benedict XVI stated, "it is important to reiterate the close relationship between protection of the environment and respect for the ethical requirements of human nature, because when human ecology is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits."


Monegasque Studies MA, US
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T. - Monegasque Scholar, 202 679-1438



grace kelly exhibit, princess grace, monegasque diplomacy, monaco-vatican relations

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