The oldest embassy in the world turns 400



The permanent diplomatic mission of the Kingdom of Spain to the Holy See was created in 1480 and is therefore the oldest in the world still in existence.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope’s Secretary of State, presided over a mass on October 12 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the creation of the Spanish Embassy in the Vatican, the oldest embassy in the world.

The Embassy of Spain still sits today in Palazzo Monaldeschi, also known as the Palace of Spain (Palace of Spain). Until 1622, the Spanish ambassador had no permanent residence. He chose to establish it on a square located in the heart of Rome which, in homage, was later baptized Spanish Square, Spain Square. The square is now a tourist hotspot.

Pietro Parolin OMRI, is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church. Cardinal since February 2014, he has been the Vatican’s Secretary of State since October 2013 and a member of the Council of Cardinal Counselors since July 2014. Prior to that, he worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See for 30 years, where his assignments included terms in Nigeria, Mexico and Venezuela, as well as more than six years as Under Secretary of State for State Relations. | Cardinal Parolin

Cardinal Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, celebrated the Eucharist on Spain’s National Day under the gilded coffered ceiling of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major – the gold donated by the ‘Most Catholic’ (muy católicas majestas) sovereigns to the Spanish Pope Alexander VI. In the presence of members of the diplomatic corps, the cardinal paid tribute to the pioneering political decision of the kings of Spain, which inaugurated the rich diplomatic history of the Holy See. The permanent diplomatic mission of the Kingdom of Spain to the Holy See was created in 1480 – and is therefore the oldest still existing in the world. Today, 183 states maintain diplomatic relations with the Vatican, the smallest state in the world.

Spain and secularization

Cardinal Parolin, “right arm” of Pope Francis, paid homage to Spain’s ancient Christian tradition, but also highlighted the challenges of secularization.

The Cardinal recalled the long history of Spanish Christianity, remembered every October 12 on the feast of the Marian visit of the Virgin of the Pillar to the Apostle James, evangelizer of the Iberian Peninsula, in the year 40 in Zaragoza.

October 12, he recalled, is also a key date for the Spanish-speaking world, since it is the date on which Christopher Columbus arrived in America in 1492. This date is commemorated in many other countries throughout the world. world and is also celebrated in the Americas as Indigenous Peoples Day.

In his homily, Cardinal Parolin highlighted the process of generalized secularization that has hit Spain in recent decades. “Spain, like all European countries, is a plural reality, where many no longer identify with Christianity“, he conceded. Calling for mutual respect and dialogue between believers and non-believers, he gave Spain the goal of building “a peaceful homeland, attentive to the common good, respectful of religious freedom and open to the world.

Parolin also wonders if it is still possible, as is traditionally the case every October 12, to ask faith, hope and charity for all of Spain. “If, on the one hand, this [process of secularization] saddens us,” said the Secretary of State, “on the other hand, it pushes us to be credible witnesses to our faith.

The cardinal also called for prayer “for all Spaniards, without offending anyone”, and described Faith as an “openness to the transcendent dimension of life and to spiritual values”. Hope, continued the Italian cardinal, can be conceived “as a tension towards a better world and as a struggle to achieve it”. Finally, he said that it was possible to implore God to charity “as a solidarity towards the most needy and the most vulnerable.”


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