Last modified: 2013-04-27 by rob raeside
Keywords: vatican | legislation | precedence |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
(1:1) image by eljko Heimer, 11 October 2004
The current (second) Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the
State of the City of Vatican was published in "Acta
Apostolicae Sedis" on 26 November 2000, and came into force
on 22 February 2001. The wording of Article 20 of this
last is, however, identical to that of Article 19 in the first
Constitution (the so-called Treaty of Lateran) dated 7 June 1929,
and both read as follows:
1. The flag of the City of the Vatican consists of two fields divided vertically, yellow field on the staff side and a white field on the other side, which bears the tiara and the keys, the whole following the model A annexed to the present law.
2. The shield shows the tiara with the keys, according to the model B annexed to the present law.
3. The seal bears in the centre the tiara and the keys, and on the circumference the words "Città del Vaticano"' [State of Vatican City], according to the model C annexed to the present law.
Annex A - Official flag of the State of Vatican City: Cloth divided per pale of yellow and white, the white charged amid with the crossed Keys surmounted by the Tiara. Flagpole coated of gold, topped by a spearhead decorated by a cocarde in the same colours as the flag and gold fringed."
And the illustration shows a square flag on a staff with a spearpoint finial (but no fringe) as did that in the 1929 Constitution.
According to both Annex A to the "Acta Apostolicae Sedis Supplemento per le Leggi e Dispozioni dello Sato dello Cita del Vaticano" - the so-called Treaty of Lateran - of 7 June 1929, and to Annex A of the recent Constititution, the arms are illustrated at exactly one-half of flag width as opposed to the one-third we show on fotw. Interestingly enough, the apostolic arms as used on the flag show a height to width ration of 10:7. The "fringe" which I said did not appear on the flag, refers to a fringed cravat which does appear on both illustrations.
Christopher Southworth, 10 October 2004
An interesting question arose about the precedence of Holy See
flag when displayed with other national flags. Normally, national
flags are displayed in the alphabetical order of their nations'
names. As I understand it, the Holy See is not a nation such, but
is legally equivalent to one for diplomatic and legal purposes.
Should the Holy See flag be with the "H"s in the precedence, or at the end?
Would the answer depend on the context (secular vs. religious)?
Peter Ansoff, 17 June 2006
My understanding differs; it is a nation, the vestige of the
old Papal States, and has ambassadors to and from it, as do
Monaco, San Marino, and similar micro-states. In a display of
national flags, I would alphabetize it under V (in English).
In a religious display, as in most Catholic churches, it stands junior to the US flag to the "sinister" of the altar/stage, as the Israeli does in some synagogues. Catholic churches as a rule do not display other flags.
Al Kirsch, 17 June 2006
An interesting parallel exists for the United Kingdom: foreign
Ambassadors are accredited not to the UK, but to "The Court
of St. James's"; that is, the 'seat' of sovereignty of Her
Britannic Majesty. Nonetheless these ambassadors are, to all
intents and purposes, equivalent to High Commissioners (from
former British colonies), who are indeed accredited to the UK.
Now to the Vatican: foreign ambassadors are likewise accredited not to the Vatican City State, but to the Holy See (in Latin: Sancta Sedes), the 'seat' (Sedes) of sovereignty of His Holiness the Pope.
Just as the Union Jack is accorded the alphabetical precedence of the United Kingdom, not the Court of St. James's (however sovereign this entity might be), it makes sense to give the Vatican flag the alphabetical precedence of the Vatican City State, not the Holy See.
Miles Li, 17 June 2006
I was always under the impression that the official name of
the political entity was 'Vatican City State' and that its flag
should therefore be flown under the letter V. The term 'Holy
See', as I understand it, is an ecclesiastical definition rather
than a political one, and that therefore while it may be proper
and indeed expected for political entities which are or have been
traditionally Roman Catholic either in their religious identity
or in the religious composition of the majority of their
populations, or where the Roman Catholic Church has enjoyed a
special legal position, then it would be proper for such a
country to fly the Vatican flag under the letter 'H' if indeed
English was the official language (although I cannot think of
such a country in which English is the official language except
possibly the Republic of Ireland, where it is 'an' rather than
'the' official language), where the above would be applicable.
Indeed, most countries in which the Roman Catholic Church has
previously enjoyed or still enjoys a special legal status or in
which the majority of the population are Roman Catholics, the
term 'Holy See' would be given in its Latin form, 'Sancta Sedes',
and its flag would therefore be displayed unmder the leter S.
Ron Lahav, 17 June 2006
The international legal entity is the Holy See. However, the
flag is not technically the flag of the Holy See but that of the
State of Vatican City--the legal instrument defining it is the
fundamental law of the State of Vatican City, the text of which
says "The flag of the City of the Vatican consists of two
fields divided vertically.... etc."
I would say that when this flag is displayed with other national flags, it should be alphabetized (assuming it's in an English- speaking country) between Vanuatu and Venezuela. I'm not sure what other context would call for its appropriate display with other non- host-country national flags.
Joe McMillan, 17 June 2006
An ambassador is never accredited to another *country* or from
another country, even if he/she for all intents and purposes is
ambassador to that country, but to the *head of state* of that
country from the head of state of his own country. Hence, e.g.,
in Sweden, H.M. the King still formally sends out to and receives
the ambassadors from foreign lands, even if he has no real
political role according to the Swedish constitution of 1974.
This is his duty as head of state according to international law.
Elias Granqvist, 17 June 2006
The only precedent that I can offer is the U.S. State
Department lobby which I visited some years ago. There
the flags of nations with whom the U.S. maintains diplomatic
relations, are displayed in alphabetical order. At
that time, the Vatican flag appeared under "H" for Holy
See, not "V" for Vatican City. The Vatican
flag is not displayed at the U.N. in New York, because the Holy
See is not a voting member, but rather a permanent observer with
certain member privileges.
Rev. Dr. William M. Becker, Pastor, 17 June 2006
If you look at membership/observer lists of various
international organizations, Vatican City is always listed as
Holy See (IAEA, WIPO, WTO, ILO). The only exceptions are the
Universal Postal Union and the ITU where it is listed as Vatican
Vatican City is not a member of the United Nations. The membership was offered to the pope in 1945 and 1946, but he refused because the state/church wanted to be as neutral as possible. The Holy See is however an observer (as territorial entity) and is allowed to participate in all conferences and meetings.
Maxim van Ooijen, 17 June 2006