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UK in the Holy See

London 12:26, 15 Nov 2010
Last updated at 15:58 (UK time) 17 May 2010

Previous ambassadors

Formal diplomatic links between the England and the Holy See were first established in 1479 when John Shirwood was appointed by King Edward IV as the first resident Ambassador. Shirwood was also the first English Ambassador to serve abroad, making the Embassy to the Holy See the UK’s oldest Embassy.

Shirwood’s successors included William Celling, Cardinal Christopher Bainbridge and Silvester De Giglis, Bishop of Worcester, however formal diplomatic relations between England and the Holy See were interrupted in 1536. Links were restored in 1553, with Sir Edward Carne’s re-appointment as Ambassador by Queen Mary I. Sir Edward had previously been Ambassador to the Holy See under Henry VIII.  He was initially Queen Elizabeth I’s ambassador too, but when relations with the Holy See deteriorated he was recalled.  He chose to remain in Rome however, and died in 1561. He is buried in the Church of San Gregorio Magno on the Caelian Hill. He was the last resident envoy until diplomatic relations were restored in 1914. Unofficial ties were maintained between the UK and the Holy See thorough much of the 18th and 19th centuries however: for example, Lord Odo Russell was the UK’s unofficial Minister to the Holy See from 1858 to 1870.

The United Kingdom re-established formal resident diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1914. And the Holy See sent an Apostolic Delegate to London in 1938. In 1982, full diplomatic relations were restored when representation was again raised to full ambassadorial level after a break of some 423 years.





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