Apostolic Nunciature to the United States
The Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.
LocationWashington, D.C. 20008
Address3339 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C., U.S.
Coordinates38°55′28″N 77°3′56″W / 38.92444°N 77.06556°W / 38.92444; -77.06556
Apostolic NuncioCardinal Christophe Pierre

The Apostolic Nunciature to the United States, sometimes referred to as the Vatican Embassy, 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] Since 2016, the papal nuncio has been Cardinal Christophe Pierre.

The Apostolic Nunciature to the United States 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 government of the United States and as delegate and point-of-contact between the Catholic hierarchy in America and the pope.

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 in the U.S. and is the official responsible for announcing such appointments.

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


The Apostolic Delegation to the United States was established on January 24, 1893, with offices in Washington, D.C.; it was led by an apostolic delegate. The delegation was the result of an effort by the Holy See to establish communication between Pope Leo XIII and President Benjamin Harrison. An apostolic delegate is an ecclesiastical official, rather than a diplomat, who represents the Holy See to the Catholic Church in his host country. Because the delegate was not recognized by the U.S. government, the Holy See was not restricted in its choice of delegate, and there were periods when two delegates served at the same time.

The Holy See usually names a pro-nuncio rather than a delegate in anticipation of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Vatican were established on January 10, 1984,[2] the result of the close friendship between Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan,[citation needed] and the delegation was elevated to the rank of nunciature on January 11.[3] The Holy See's representative continued to be titled pro-nuncio because at the time, the Vatican only gave the title of nuncio to its ambassadors who were deans of the diplomatic corps in their host country.[citation needed] In 1990 and 1991, the Vatican quietly began using the title of nuncio for all its newly appointed ambassadors who were not the deans of a country's diplomatic corps, though it retained the pro-nuncio title for all those already appointed.[a]

At its establishment in 1893, the Apostolic Delegation occupied temporary quarters at the Catholic University of America, then from 1894 on a row of antebellum houses north of the United States Capitol. It moved in 1907 into a new home at 1811 Biltmore Street NW, designed for that purpose in 1905 by architect Albert Olszewski Von Herbulis (razed in 1973).[4] The current site of the Apostolic Nunciature on Massachusetts Avenue was acquired in 1931 for $223,000 and the construction of the building, a three-story complex that includes a chancery, other offices and residential quarters, was completed in 1937 at a cost of $550,000. Designed by Frederick V. Murphy, the design, based on a Roman palazzo, features ample use of limestone and Art Deco influences.[5]

The nunciature also houses the staff of the Holy See's permanent observer to the Organization of American States, which is headquartered in Washington.

Representatives of the Holy See to the United States

Apostolic Delegates
Apostolic Pro-Nuncios
Apostolic Nuncios

See also


  1. ^ Since 1993, the official Vatican yearbook, the Annuario Pontificio, has included an asterisk after 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. ^ "Embassy: Apostolic Nunciature, the Holy See". Embassy.org. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  2. ^ Weisman, Steven R. (January 11, 1984). "U.S. and Vatican Restore Full Ties after 117 Years". New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  3. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXIV. 1984. p. 437. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  4. ^ James M. Goode (2003). Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings. Smithsonian Institution. p. 273.
  5. ^ Murphy, Michael V.; Murphy, John C. (1994). "The Architecture of the Vatican Embassy Building Washington, D.C." U.S. Catholic Historian. 12 (2): 131–138. ISSN 0735-8318. JSTOR 25154025.
  6. ^ (PDF). Vol. LI. 1959. p. 116 https://www.vatican.va/archive/aas/documents/AAS-51-1959-ocr.pdf. Retrieved 9 September 2022. ((cite book)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Fiske, Edward B. (1 July 1967). "Delegate to U.S. is Named by Pope". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  8. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXV. 1973. p. 165. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  9. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXV. 1973. p. 349. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  10. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXII. 1980. p. 769. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  11. ^ "Pope Designates a New Apostolic Delegate to U.S; A Diplomat Since 1952". New York Times. 14 December 1980. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  12. ^ a b Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXIV. 1984. p. 429. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  13. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXXII. 1990. p. 536. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  14. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXXII. 1990. p. 738. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  15. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. XC. 1998. p. 1047. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  16. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. XCI. 1999. p. 127. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  17. ^ a b "Rinunce e Nomine, 17.12.2005" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 17 December 2005. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  18. ^ Lackey, Jim (27 July 2011). "Vatican nuncio to U.S. Archbishop Sambi dies". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  19. ^ Wooden, Cindy (19 October 2011). "Pope names Archbishop Vigano new nuncio to the U.S". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on 22 October 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  20. ^ a b McElwee, Joshua J. (12 April 2016). "Francis replaces Vatican ambassador Vigano days after he's lauded by US bishops". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 7 September 2022.