Apostolic Nunciature to the United States

Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See to the United States
Coordinates 38°55′28″N 77°3′56″W / 38.92444°N 77.06556°W / 38.92444; -77.06556Coordinates: 38°55′28″N 77°3′56″W / 38.92444°N 77.06556°W / 38.92444; -77.06556
Location Washington, D.C. 20008
Address 3339 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.
Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre
Flag of the Vatican City

The Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See to the United States is the diplomatic mission of the Holy See to the United States. It is located at 3339 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C., in the Embassy Row neighborhood.[1] The current Apostolic Nuncio is Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who was named to the position by Pope Francis on 12 April 2016.

The Apostolic Nunciature to the United States of America is an ecclesiastical office of the Catholic Church in the United States, with the rank of an embassy. The nuncio serves both as the ambassador of the Holy See to the President of the United States, and as delegate and point-of-contact between the Catholic hierarchy in America and the Pope (as head of the church). The office of Apostolic Nuncio is currently always assigned to titular archbishops. The nunciature to the United States is considered a highly important post and therefore is normally filled by a very experienced Vatican diplomat; historically nuncios to the United States have often been elevated to the rank of Cardinal in consistory shortly after their service, and been given senior posts within the Vatican itself.

The Apostolic Nunciature is an administrative center of the Catholic Church in the United States. Communications from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the various dioceses in the United States to the Holy See pass through the nunciature. The nuncio also fills a central role in the appointment of bishops to episcopal offices in the country, and is the official responsible for making the announcement of an episcopal appointment.

The physical building which houses the offices of the apostolic nuncio and his staff is also called the Nunciature to the United States of America. It is exempt from the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Washington (canon 366 1°).


The nunciature was established as the Delegation to the United States of America on January 24, 1893, with offices in Washington, D.C., led by an apostolic delegate. It was the result of an effort by the Holy See to establish communication between the Pope (Leo XIII) and the President of the United States (Benjamin Harrison). Formal relations, however, were not established until January 10, 1984, when the delegation was elevated to the rank of nunciature. The establishment of an embassy in the city of Washington was the result of an increased friendship of Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan.


The staff of the nunciature includes the permanent and alternative observer to the Organization of American States, given that the OAS headquarters are in Washington.

Apostolic Delegate

The Holy See did not have official ties with the United States and its mission was headed by an apostolic delegate without the rank of ambassador. Apostolic delegates, unlike apostolic nuncios, exercise only ecclesiastical functions of oversight over the Catholic hierarchy of the country to which they were sent, while apostolic nuncios have the added responsibility of also acting as ambassadors of the Holy See before the government of the country where they serve. There were instances in which two official delegates served at the same time.

  1. Francesco Satolli, January 14, 1893 – 1896
  2. Sebastiano Martinelli, OSA, April 18, 1896 – 1902
  3. Diomede Falconio, OFM, September 30, 1902 – 1911
  4. Giovanni Bonzano, February 2, 1912 – December 11, 1922
  5. Pietro Fumasoni Biondi, December 14, 1922 – March 16, 1933
  6. Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, March 17, 1933 – November 14, 1959
  7. Egidio Vagnozzi, December 16, 1958 – January 13, 1968
  8. Luigi Raimondi, June 30, 1967 – March 21, 1973
  9. Jean Jadot, May 23, 1973 – June 27, 1980
  10. Pio Laghi, December 10, 1980 – January 9, 1984

Apostolic Pro-Nuncio

The first Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Pio Laghi, presented his credentials as Holy See ambassador to the United States in 1984 after the Holy See and the United States established full diplomatic relations. His title was pro-nuncio because at the time the Vatican gave the title of nuncio only to its ambassadors who enjoyed the rank of dean of the diplomatic corps to a country.

  1. Pio Laghi, March 26, 1984 – April 6, 1990
  2. Agostino Cacciavillan, June 13, 1990 – November 5, 1998

Apostolic Nuncio

In 1990 and 1991 the Vatican quietly began to use the title of nuncio instead of pro-nuncio for its ambassadors who were not the deans of a country's ambassadorial corps, but it retained the pro-nuncio title for all those already appointed. In 1998, when President Bill Clinton accepted the credentials of Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo Higuera as the third Vatican ambassador to the United States, he held the title of Apostolic Nuncio. Since 1993 the official Vatican yearbook, the Annuario Pontificio, has included an asterisk behind the title of those nuncios "che (per ora) non sono Decani del Corpo Diplomatico" – "who (for now) are not deans of the diplomatic corps."

  1. Gabriel Montalvo Higuera, 7 December 1998 – 17 December 2005
  2. Pietro Sambi, 17 December 2005 – 27 July 2011
  3. Carlo Maria Viganò 19 October 2011 – 12 April 2016
  4. Christophe Pierre 12 April 2016 -

See also


  1. "Embassy: Apostolic Nunciature, the Holy See". Embassy.org. Retrieved 16 December 2014.

External links

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