A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Holy See


The Holy See is the diplomatic representative of the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope with its headquarters in Vatican City. The United States maintained a presence in Rome throughout the nineteenth century. The United States at different times had a Minister to the Papal States, Minister to the Pontifical States, and finally, a Minister to Rome from 1848 until Kingdom of Italy conquered Rome in 1870. Throughout much of the twentieth century, successive U.S. Presidents sent a Personal Representative to the Holy See.


U.S. Recognition of the Independence of the Holy See, 1984.

The United States formally recognized the Holy See on January 10, 1984, when President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II agreed to the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Consular Presence

U.S. Consular Relations with the Papal States, 1797-1870.

The United States maintained consular relations with the Papal States from 1797 to 1870. Currently, there are no Consulate Generals in Vatican City.

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1984.

The United States and the Holy See established diplomatic relations by agreement between President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II on January 10, 1984.

Establishment of American Embassy at the Holy See, 1984.

The United States established an embassy to the Holy See on April 9, 1984, when William A. Wilson presented his credentials to the Pope, elevating his position from Personal Representative of the President to U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.


  • Department of State Country Fact Sheet: Holy See
  • Department of State Country Information: Holy See