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Diocese of Rome
Dioecesis Urbis

Seal of the Diocese of Rome

The coat of arms of the Diocese of Rome

Basic information
Location Rome, Italy. 41°53′9.26″N 12°30′22.16″E / 41.8859056°N 12.5061556°E / 41.8859056; 12.5061556
Territory Lazio
Population 2,454,000 Catholics
Rite Roman Rite
Patron Saints Peter and Paul
Ecclesiastical province Province of Rome
Cathedral Cathedral of Rome
Bishop Bishop of Rome
Current leadership
Diocesan Bishop Benedict XVI
Auxiliary bishops Agostino Cardinal Vallini, Angelo Cardinal Comastri

The Diocese of Rome (Latin: Diœcesis Urbis or Diœcesis Romana, Italian: Diocesi di Roma), otherwise known as the Holy See, the Apostolic See, the Holy Roman Church, the Church of Rome, or the See of Peter, is a diocese of the Catholic Church, in Rome, Italy.[1] The diocese is the seat of the bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope, who is the Supreme Pontiff and chief of the Catholic Church. Established in the First Century, the current pope is Pope Benedict XVI, who acceded after the death of Pope John Paul II, in April 2005.

The bishop

The bishop of the Diocese of Rome has, first of all, the simple title of Bishop of Rome because all his other titles descend from this position that points to him as the successor of Saint Peter in Rome. From this he has a plethora of titles:

  • Foremost he is the Pope (from Latin papa, Greek παππας pappas) meaning "father". His see is the Chair of Peter which has Primacy over all of the Catholic Church and makes its bishop the Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ.
  • He has also been called Patriarch of the West, although this title has been dropped recently.[2] He has authority over the entire Latin Church, over the other latin Patriarchs, such as the Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Venice and Lisbon. In the Orthodox Church, he is one of the five ancient patriarchs of the Christian Pentarchy.
  • Then he is Primate of Italy, that means the most important bishop of the Italian church.
  • Finally, he is also the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rome itself.


The best evidence available for the origins of the Roman church is Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans. This indicates that the church was established probably by the early 40's, and that Saint Peter became associated with this church sometime between the year 58 and the early 60's.[3]

Says one source:

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.[3]

The diocese

The Papal Cathedra, the throne of the Pope in the Archibasilica Lateranensis.

The territory of the diocese extends all over the Vatican City State and the city of Rome, capital of the Italian Republic. The two parts of the diocese are then administrated by two vicars of the Pope:

  • Vicariate of Rome, or Vicariatus urbis, includes the cathedral of Archibasilica Lateranensis and all the territory under Italian sovereignty. The current vicar is Agostino Cardinal Vallini. Because of the role of the Pope as the head of the Catholic Church, a Cardinal Vicar (Italian: Cardinale Vicario) appointed by the Pope assists with the spiritual administration of the diocese.[4] As such the Cardinal Vicar functions as a de facto diocesan bishop due to the Pope's many other responsibilities.
  • Vicariate of the Vatican City includes the Basilica Vaticana and all the territory of the Vatican City State. The current vicar is Angelo Cardinal Comastri.

The diocese covers a territory of 881 square kilometers[5] containing 341 parishes, 337 of which are active. There are 336 for the city of Rome[6] and one, St. Anne's Parish, for Vatican City.[7] The diocese has 238 cardinal clerics, and an additional 1187 "Roman" clerics.[8] In 2004, they pastored an estimated 2,454,000 faithful, who made up 88% of the population of the territory.

List of suffragans

Suburbicarian sees

Six of the dioceses of the Roman Province have the title of suburbicarians, from the Latin sub urbe, with the significance of "subject to the city [of Rome]". Each suburbicarian diocese has a Cardinal Bishop at its head.

  • Suburbicarian See of Porto-Santa Rufina
  • Suburbicarian See of Albano
  • Suburbicarian See of Frascati
  • Suburbicarian See of Palestrina
  • Suburbicarian See of Sabina-Poggio Mirteto
  • Suburbicarian See of Velletri-Segni

Diocese of Ostia

There remains the titular Suburicarian See of Ostia, which is held by the Cardinal Bishop elected to be the Dean of the College of Cardinals, in addition to his previous Suburicarian See. The Diocese of Ostia was merged with the Diocese of Rome in 1914, and is now administered by the Vicar General for Rome.

Other suffragan sees

Otherwise there are other dioceses connected with the Metropolitan of Rome. They are churches directly subjected to the Holy See:

  • Archdiocese of Gaeta
  • Diocese of Anagni-Alatri
  • Diocese of Civita Castellana
  • Diocese of Civitavecchia-Tarquinia
  • Diocese of Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino
  • Diocese of Latina-Terracina-Sezze-Priverno
  • Diocese of Rieti
  • Diocese of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo
  • Diocese of Tivoli
  • Diocese of Viterbo
  • Territorial Abbey of Montecassino
  • Territorial Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata
  • Territorial Abbey of Subiaco


For a list of Popes, please see: List of Popes.

See also

  • List of Roman Catholic dioceses (alphabetical) (including archdioceses)
  • List of Roman Catholic dioceses (structured view) (including archdioceses)
  • List of Roman Catholic archdioceses (by country and continent)


  1. Catholic Encyclopedia article: Rome
  2. CNS News article
  3. 3.0 3.1 McBrien, The Church (New York: HarperOne, 2008) cf pp 6, 45
  4. "Canon 475". 1983 Code of Canon Law. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  5. Entry at
  6. List of Parishes in the Vicariate
  7. Homily of John Paul II to St. Anne's Parish
  8. Diocesan website, listing of personnel

External links