Bilateral relations Switzerland–Holy See (Vatican City)

Bilateral relations between Switzerland and the Holy See are excellent, as demonstrated by the frequent exchanges and various close areas of cooperation between the two states.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

The Holy See is represented in Switzerland by the Apostolic Nunciature, which also represents the Pope in the local Catholic church.

Since 1991, the Federal Council has maintained diplomatic relations with the Holy See through an ambassador, currently posted to Ljubljana.

List of international treaties signed between Switzerland and the Holy See.

History of bilateral relations

The Apostolic Nunciature in Switzerland was established in 1586 in Lucerne. At the time, the nuncio was accredited to the Catholic cantons, before being accredited to the Confederation in 1803. In 1873, the events of the 'Kulturkampf' in Switzerland led to the severing of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and the Holy See for almost half a century. The year 2020 marks the centenary of their restoration.

Geneva, with its international organisations, is one of the world's most visited cities by latter-day popes. In 1969, Pope Paul VI paid the first papal visit to Switzerland. Pope John Paul II also visited the UN headquarters in Geneva in 1982. He subsequently made two pastoral visits to Switzerland in 1984 and 2004. On 21 June 2018, Pope Francis visited Geneva – one of his rare visits to a European country. The most recent visit of a president of the Swiss Confederation to the Holy See took place on 12 November of the same year. On that occasion, Federal Councillor Alain Berset had talks with Pope Francis and visited the Pontifical Swiss Guard. 

The swearing-in of the Pontifical Swiss Guard on 6 May – the day of the commemoration of the Sack of Rome in 1527 – always takes place in the presence of important officials from the Swiss political world (federal councillors, presidents of the National Council or the Council of States, head of the Swiss Armed Forces, etc.).

Holy See, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)

Last update 26.01.2022

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