Diocese of Rome

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Diocese of Rome

Dioecesis Urbis seu Romana

Diocesi di Roma
Coat of arms Holy See.svg
CountryItaly, Vatican
Ecclesiastical provinceRome
Coordinates41°53′9.26″N 12°30′22.16″E / 41.8859056°N 12.5061556°E / 41.8859056; 12.5061556Coordinates: 41°53′9.26″N 12°30′22.16″E / 41.8859056°N 12.5061556°E / 41.8859056; 12.5061556
Area881 km2 (340 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
Steady2,365,923 (Steady82%)
DenominationCatholic Church
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
Established1st century
CathedralArchbasilica of St. John Lateran
Patron saintSaint Peter
Saint Paul
Saint Catherine of Siena
Saint Philip Neri
Saint Lawrence of Rome
Secular priests1,589
Current leadership
GovernanceHoly See
BishopPope Francis
Auxiliary Bishops
Bishops emeritus
Source: Annuario Pontificio 2012

The Diocese of Rome (Latin: Dioecesis Urbis seu Romana;[2] Italian: Diocesi di Roma) is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Rome. The Bishop of Rome or the Roman Bishop is the Pope, the Supreme Pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church. As the Holy See, the papacy is a sovereign entity with diplomatic relations,[3] and civil jurisdiction over the Vatican City State located geographically within Rome. The Diocese of Rome is the metropolitan diocese of the Province of Rome, an ecclesiastical province in Italy. The first Bishop of Rome was Saint Peter in the first century. The incumbent since 13 March 2013 is Pope Francis.

Historically, many Rome-born men, as well as others born elsewhere on the Italian Peninsula have served as Bishops of Rome. Since 1900, however, there has been only one Rome-born Bishop of Rome, Pius XII (1939–1958). In addition, non-Italians have served as Bishops of Rome since John Paul II was elected Pope in 1978. In earlier centuries, in any case, many non-Romans and non-Italians have been Pope.


Due to its significance as central point of reference within the Catholic Church, it is sometimes referred to as The Holy Roman Church, as is the case for instance with Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and other such diocese-related titles and terms. This naming tradition is part of a wider context of nomenclature, of which notably also external habits have been derived, such as the adjective Roman Catholic, occurring since the Protestant Reformation.

Bishop of Rome[edit]

The bishop of the Diocese of Rome has, in the first place, the title of Bishop of Rome, the basis for all his other titles. Those officially listed for him in the Annuario Pontificio are:

The best-known title, that of "Pope", does not appear in the official list, but is commonly used in the titles of documents, and appears, in abbreviated form, in the signatures of the Popes.



The best evidence available for the origins of the Church in Rome is Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans. This indicates that the church was established probably by the early 40s AD. Saint Peter became associated with this church sometime between the year 58 and the early 60s.[4]

According to one historian:

The final years of the first century and the early years of the second constitute the "postapostolic" period, as reflected in the extrabiblical writings of Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch. By now the church at Rome was exercising a pastoral care that extended beyond its own community, having replaced Jerusalem as the practical center of the growing universal Church. Appeals were made to Peter and Paul, with whom the Roman church was most closely identified.[4]

Diocesan territory[edit]

The city of Rome has grown beyond the boundaries of the diocese. Notable parts of the city belong to the dioceses of Ostia and Porto-Santa Rufina. Ostia is administered together with the Vicariate of the City and thus included in the statistics given below, while Porto is instead administered by its own diocesan bishop.

Vicariates general[edit]

The Papal Cathedra, the throne of the Pope in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (Archibasilica Lateranensis).

The territory of the diocese includes Vatican City State and the city of Rome, capital of the Italian Republic, with distinct vicars general for the two parts:

Vicariate of the Vatican City
the territory of the Vatican City State. It consists of two parishes: Saint Peter's Basilica and Saint Anne in Vatican.[5][6] The current Vicar General for Vatican City is Cardinal Angelo Comastri.
Vicariate of Rome (Latin
Vicariatus urbis):
the territory under Italian sovereignty, plus the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, which is the cathedral of the diocese. The Vicar General for the Vicariate of Rome has for centuries been called the Cardinal Vicar (Italian: Cardinale Vicario), but in a departure from tradition the current Vicar, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, who succeeded Cardinal Agostino Vallini on 29 June 2017, was initially named the Titular Archbishop of Mottola when appointed Vicar General. The Vicariate has 336 active and 5 suppressed parishes in its territory.[7]

Unless the bishop of a diocese reserves some acts to himself, vicars general have by law within a diocese the power to undertake all administrative acts that pertain to the bishop except those that in law require a special mandate of the bishop.[8]


The diocese covers a territory of 881 square kilometres (340 sq mi)[9] of which 0.44 square kilometres (0.17 sq mi) is in the Vatican City State. The diocese has 1,219 diocesan priests of its own, while 2,331 priests of other dioceses, 5,072 religious priests and 140 Opus Dei priests reside in its territory, as do 2,266 women religious.[10] In 2004, they ministered to an estimated 2,454,000 faithful, who made up 88% of the population of the territory.

Ecclesiastical Province of Rome[edit]

Suburbicarian sees[edit]

Six of the dioceses of the Roman Province are described as suburbicarian.[11] Each suburbicarian diocese has a Cardinal Bishop at its titular head.

Diocese of Ostia[edit]

There remains the titular Suburbicarian See of Ostia, held, in addition to his previous suburbicarian see, by the Cardinal Bishop elected to be the Dean of the College of Cardinals. The Diocese of Ostia was merged with the Diocese of Rome in 1962, and is now administered by a Vicar General, in tight cooperation with the Vicar General for Rome. It was also diminished to contain only the cathedral parish of Ostia (Sant'Aurea in Ostia Antica), which, however, in 2012 was divided into two parishes, who together form the present diocese of Ostia.

Suffragan sees[edit]

See: List of Catholic dioceses (structured view) § Episcopal Conference of Italy, including San Marino and Vatican City State

Other Italian dioceses having Rome as their metropolitan see:

Other exempt (directly subject) sees[edit]

Numerous ordinaries and personal prelatures outside the Province of Rome, worldwide, are "Exempt", i.e. "directly subject to the Holy See", not part of any ecclesiastical province, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 07.03.2015" (Press release) (in Italian). 7 March 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  2. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2012, p. 1
  3. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia article: Rome
  4. ^ a b McBrien, Richard P. (2008). The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism. New York: HarperOne. pp. 6, 45.
  5. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2012, p. 1386
  6. ^ "Enti Gruppo - Vicariatus Urbis". www.vicariatusurbis.org.
  7. ^ "Vicariatus Urbis: Parrocchie" [Vicariate of Rome: Parishes]. Diocesi di Roma (in Italian). Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Canon 479 §1". Code of Canon Law. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Diocese of Roma {Rome}". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Vicariatus Urbis: Persone" [Vicariate of Rome: Personnel] (in Italian). Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  11. ^ For the etymology of this word, see Etymology of the English word suburbicarian Archived 23 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine

Sources and external links[edit]