The Holy See
The Holy See
Head of State (Sovereign): H.H. Pope I Francis
Secretary of State: H.E. Cardinal Pietro Patrolin
Secretary of Relations with States: H.E. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher
Diplomatic relations with the Holy See were established on May 23, 1992.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Holy See is Mr. Rahman Mustafayev based in Paris. He presented his credentials to Pope Francis on December 21, 2017.
The Apostolic Nuncio to the Republic of Azerbaijan is Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell based in Ankara. He presented his credentials to President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev on October 4, 2018.
Since regaining its independence, the Republic of Azerbaijan has developed its relationship with the Holy See. The visit of the national leader Heydar Aliyev to the Holy See in September 1997 and the visit of the head of the Catholic Church, John Paul II, at the invitation of the President of Azerbaijan on May 22-23, 2002, laid a solid foundation for bilateral relations.
Following these visits, the construction of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Baku, and the participation of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertonne, the Secretary of the Holy See at its official opening in 2008, has contributed to the relationship between Azerbaijan and the Holy See. It should be noted that during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Azerbaijan, the two Heads of States agreed to build a Catholic church in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan provided free space for the church and the Holy See provided the construction of the church.
The visit of H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Holy See in February 2005, and several years later, the signing of the “Agreement between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Holy See on the legal status of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Azerbaijan” (Baku, April 29, 2011) opened a new page in the relationship between of the two countries.
Following the election of Pope Francis as the head of the Catholic Church, important visits were made between Azerbaijan and the Holy See. H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan paid an official visit to the Holy See on March 6, 2015. During the visit H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev met with Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church and Mr. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State. In addition, during a visit to the Holy See on June 2, 2014 the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, First Lady of Azerbaijan Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva was received in a special audience by Pope Francis.
Pope Francis paid a visit to Azerbaijan on October 2, 2016.
Also, the First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva paid a visit to the Vatican on September 23-26, 2018 and was received in a special audience by Pope Francis.
At the same time, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov paid several visits to the Holy See, and the Secretary of Relations with States, as well as the Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Holy See, paid several visits to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
In recent years, close cooperation was established with the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Holy See. Within the framework of this cooperation, it was possible to hold events dedicated to the Azerbaijani culture in the Holy See. The concert of Alim Gasimov, Mugam Master at St. Thomas University in the Holy See, in April 2010, the event dedicated to the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and the Holy See held with the support of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and an exhibition dedicated to the pearls of Azerbaijani culture in November 2012 were held in the Holy See.
In addition, within the framework of cooperation in the field of archives, copies of a number of Azerbaijani documents stored in the Holy See archives have been provided to our country. Also, the Apostolic Library of the Holy See has uncovered more than 60 ancient manuscripts related to Azerbaijan and the region in which our country is located.
In the framework of cooperation with the Holy See as well as in the area of cultural heritage preservation, joint projects have been implemented with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Among them are the restoration of the Holy Marchellino and Pietro catacombs, one of the most important monuments of the Catholic world, the catacombs of the Holy Sebastian, a number of manuscripts in the Vatican Apostolic Library, as well as restoration of some artworks in the Vatican Museums.
The implementation of these projects was considered a valuable contribution to the protection of the world's cultural and historical heritage, as well as a clear example of interfaith and intercultural cooperation.
Treaty and legal basis
1 Agreement, ("Agreement between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Holy See on the legal status of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Azerbaijan", 29 April 2011) and the agreement on cooperation in 7 various fields was signed between the two countries.