81 Holy See

Two vertical bands of yellow (hoist side) and white with the arms of the Holy See, consisting of the crossed keys of Saint Peter surmounted by the three-tiered papal tiara, centered in the white band; the yellow color represents the pope’s spiritual power, the white his worldly power.

Flag courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Google Earth

The facade of St. Peter’s Basilica as viewed from next to one of the two matching Bernini fountains that grace St. Peter’s Square (Piazza) in front of the church. The attic or upper story displays statues of Christ, his apostles, and St. John the Baptist. Constructed over a period of 80 years and consecrated in 1626, the basilica is the largest Christian church in the world – capable of holding some 60,000 people.

Photo courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Last updated on April 18, 2024


According to Britannica, Holy See, the government of the Roman Catholic Church, which is led by the pope as the bishop of Rome. The word see comes from the Latin sedes, meaning “seat,” which refers to the episcopal chair occupied by a bishop and the area over which he has responsibility. As the preeminent episcopal jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy See forms the church’s central government and makes decisions on issues of faith and morality for Catholics throughout the world, a population of about 1.3 billion. It resides in Vatican City, an independent state established in 1929 to allow the pope to exercise his universal authority. However, it also functions as a nonterritorial institution whose authority endures even when there is no pope, during sede vacant (“empty seat”), such as the interim between a pope’s death and the election of his successor.

The Holy See’s administration is a top-down bureaucracy run by the Roman Curia, a group of dicasteries (also known as departments), congregations, and councils with specific functions and responsibilities relating to church matters such as liturgy and worship, religious education, missionary activities, doctrine of the faith, or bishops and clergy. This administrative structure is often likened to a president and prime minister system, with the pope serving as president or head of state and the cardinal secretary of state serving as prime minister or head of government.

The cardinal secretary of state administers the Secretariat of State, which oversees both internal church operations and external diplomatic relations. These sets of oversight are divided into three sections known as General Affairs (formerly called ordinary), Relations with States (formerly called extraordinary), and Diplomatic Staff of the Holy See. These are run by Vatican officials, known as substitutes (from the Italian sostituto), who are of archbishop rank. Responsibilities of the General Affairs section include regulating the duties and activities of the Roman Curia, including enacting promotions, and supervising the Holy See’s official communications agencies and publications. The General Affairs section also keeps custody of church documents and ceremonial items such as the pope’s bulla (lead seal) and Fisherman’s Ring, which are used to sign and seal papal briefs. The Relations with States section oversees papal diplomatic services, including the Holy See’s establishment of concordats, or treaties, with other states and its representation in international organizations. Established in 2017 by Pope Francis, the Diplomatic Staff of the Holy See section deals exclusively with matters relating to the staff who work in the diplomatic service of the Holy See, such as working conditions and career advancement.

The three sections of the Secretariat of State rely on nuncios, or papal ambassadors, to carry out the Holy See’s diplomatic functions around the world. Many of these are graduates of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, the world’s oldest school of diplomacy, founded in 1701.

As an independent sovereignty, the Holy See is recognized by international law and maintains diplomatic relations with other independent states. Its enduring authority regardless of the presence of a sitting pope and beyond the physical limits of the Vatican City state is an important distinction of its special sovereignty compared with traditional world governments.

The Holy See’s membership in international organizations includes the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and observer status in the World Health Organization, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations (UN). Its permanent observer status at the UN allows the Holy See to participate in General Assembly and Security Council meetings and debates, vote on procedures, and co-sponsor draft resolutions, but it may not vote on the passage of resolutions, ostensibly preserving the Holy See’s neutrality and universal moral authority.

Civil / National Aviation Authority (CAA/NAA)

None found


SkyVectorGoogle MapsADS-B Exchange

ICAO countries publish an Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). This document is divided into three parts: General (GEN), En Route (ENR) and Aerodromes (AD). ENR 1.4 details the types of airspace classes they chose to adopt from classes A through G.

none found

Drone Regulations

Currently, there is no legal framework for the use of drones.

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)


Short Essay Questions

Question 1

You have been hired by a Drone Startup Company. Your boss has immediately assigned this job to you.

They need you to prepare a one-page memo detailing the legalities of using a drone to film the Vatican, pictured above.

They need you to mention any national laws and local ordinances.

They specifically want to know what airspace you will be operating in and whether or not you need an airspace authorization.

Does it matter whether or not you are a citizen of the country?

Lastly, there is a bonus for you if, as you scroll through this chapter, you find any typos or broken links!

Question 2

Do you need a certificate to fly UAS?

If so, how do you obtain one?

Are there fees associated with this?

If so, how much?

Question 3

May you operate beyond visual line of sight?

If so, what procedures must you follow?

Question 4

Does the country have UAM/AAM laws? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 5

Are you aware of any new laws or policies not mentioned above? If so, describe, citing the exact law or policy.





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Drones Across the World Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Nilsson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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