Ceremony marks new Swiss embassy to Holy See

A Swiss embassy to the Vatican will be followed by renovation of the Swiss Papal Guard barracks. Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

The new Swiss embassy to the Vatican at the Holy See has been inaugurated and will start operating in the coming months. Since 2014, Swiss diplomatic links with the Vatican have been conducted through the Swiss ambassador in Slovenia.

This content was published on May 6, 2022 - 13:09

On Friday, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis attended a ceremony to symbolically open the embassy, although it won’t be staffed until later this year.

The Lateran Treaty of 1929 lays out that ambassadors to Rome cannot also be responsible for the Vatican at the same time – hence the need for a separate embassy.

Switzerland has had diplomatic representation to the Holy See for 30 years ago, but relations have endured some difficult momentsExternal link over the years.

The decision to upgrade to a full embassy has drawn criticism from the Swiss Evangelical Church and from some politicians that see conflicts between the Swiss system of liberal federalism and the Vatican.

Switzerland is also connected to the Vatican by the Papal Swiss Guard, founded by Pope Julius II in 1506, who are responsible for the security of the Pope and perform honorary services. 

Cassis attended the swearing in ceremony of 36 new Papal Guard members and will hold talks with Pope Francis during his visit.

Earlier this week, it was announced that a Swiss foundation and the Vatican had agreed the terms of the first phase for the renovation of the Papal Swiss Guard barracksExternal link.

The CHF45 million ($46 million) modernisation of three 19th-century buildings that house the Papal Guard and its administrative headquarters is expected to start in 2026.

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