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Papal styles of
Holiness (style)
Coat of arms of Franciscus.svg
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father

The title His Holiness (and the associated form of address Your Holiness) is an official title or style referring to the pope; this use can be traced back several hundred years.[1] It is also an official title for Oriental Orthodox patriarchs or Catholicoi. The title is also used by other religious leaders such as Lu Sheng-yen,[2] the Dalai Lama, the Menri Trizin, and Da'i al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohras, etc.


Catholic Church

His Holiness (Latin: Sanctitas) is the official style used to address the Roman Catholic pope.

The full papal title, rarely used, is:

His Holiness (Francis), Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the servants of God.

The best-known title, that of "Pope", does not appear in the official list of titles, but is commonly used in the titles of documents and appears, in abbreviated form, in their signatures as "PP", standing for Papa (Pope).[3][4][5][6][7] The 2020 Annuario Pontificio lists all of his formal titles, except Bishop of Rome, as "historical titles".[8]

It is customary when referring to popes to translate the regnal name into local languages. Thus he is Papa Franciscus in Latin (the official language of the Holy See), Papa Francesco in Italian (the language of the Vatican), Papa Francisco in his native Spanish, and Pope Francis in English.[9]

In February 2013, the Holy See announced that former Pope Benedict XVI would retain the style "His Holiness" after resigning and becoming pope emeritus.

The term is sometimes abbreviated as "HH" or "H.H." when confusion with "His/Her Highness" is unlikely.

Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches

His Holiness (Latin: Sanctitas) is the official style also used to address the Oriental Orthodox Catholicoi/patriarchs. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople has the title of His All Holiness (abbreviation HAH). It is also used for certain other Eastern patriarchs, notably those who head a church or rite which recognizes neither Rome's nor Constantinople's primacy.

Other religions

The English-language honorific "His Holiness" and the female version "Her Holiness" have commonly been used for religious leaders from other traditions, including Buddhist[10] leaders such as the Dalai Lama,[11] the Gyalwa Karmapa,[12] the Je Khenpo in Bhutan[13] and Her Holiness Shinso Ito of the Shinnyo-en branch of Shingon Buddhism.[14] In the Bön tradition it is used for the Menri Trizin.[15][16] In Islam it is used in Ahmadiyya Sunni for the Caliph and in the Dawoodi Bohra sect of Ismaili Shia for the office of Da'i al-Mutlaq, Syedna.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ His Holiness Living Buddha Lian Sheng, Grand Master Sheng-Yen Lu
  3. ^ Shahan, Thomas Joseph (1907). "Ecclesiastical Abbreviations" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ "Pope". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  5. ^ Cappelli, Adriano. "Lexicon Abbreviaturarum". p. 283. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Contractions and Abbreviations". 4 August 2005. Archived from the original on 10 December 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  7. ^ "What Does PP Stand For?". Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  8. ^ "Other than 'bishop of Rome,' yearbook lists papal titles as 'historic'". Crux. 3 April 2020. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  9. ^ Parker, Alan (15 March 2013). "A Few Things You Might Not Know About Pope Francis". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  10. ^ Royal Albert Hall ticket office: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 19 June 2012 Archived 15 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre - the Karmapa".
  13. ^ "Message from His Holiness the Je Khenpo on the launch of "Our Gyenkhu" campaign | Ministry of Health".
  14. ^ Asian Tribune: example of reference to "Her Holiness Shinso Ito, the Head Priest of Shinnyo en Temple in Tachikawa, Tokyo", 3 July 2012
  15. ^ "Biography of His Holiness the 33rd Abbot of Menri Lungtok Tenpei Nyima Rinpoche – Yungdrung Bon Monastic Centre Society".
  16. ^ "His Holiness the 34th Menri Trizin | Ligmincha". 27 February 2019.
Catholic Church Style
Pope His Holiness
Cardinal His Eminence
Bishop His Excellency