What is the Holy See?

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st. peter's chair“Where is this Holy Sea, that I might swim in it?”

Sounds like fun. However, it’s not that kind of sea.

“Holy See” actually comes from the Latin, Sancta Sedes, which also means Holy Chair.

It is short for “Holy Apostolic See.”

Basically, it is referring to the supreme “seat” of holy apostolic authority: the bishop of Rome, the Pope.

And it’s not talking about his actual physical seat, or chair, that he sits down on and has a back and four legs. It’s referring to his authoritative position, the office of Bishop of Rome.

In the past, the Holy See also referred to other episcopal sees (i.e. other Catholic bishops and their office). So generally speaking, the Holy See could also refer to the office of a bishop, all of the bishops together, or any other reference to apostolic authority.

But, specifically and most commonly, the term is understood to refer to the office of the Pope, “together with the various ecclesiastical authorities who constitute the central administration” (www.newadvent.org), also known as the “Vatican”.

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Robert Tobin February 23, 2010 at 6:29 pm

The Holy See is where the Pope keeps his Navy.

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