What Is The Holy See On 'The Young Pope?'

Gianni Fiorito/HBO

Jude Law's new papal HBO drama, The Young Pope, premieres Sunday, Jan. 15 and chronicles the life of the newly anointed Pope Pius XIII. As you may have already guessed from the title, that this new pope is making waves for his youth. And, the fictional Pope Pius XIII is also the first pope from North America. With the Catholic Church and the Vatican as central figures on the series, many viewers are curious about terminology and doctrine. For example, what is the Holy See mentioned on The Young Pope?

According to the U.S. Department of State, it is the universal government of the Catholic Church. The Holy See's page on the Department of State's website explains that it operates from the Vatican, and the Pope is the ruler of both Vatican City State and the Holy See. The website also explains:

"The Holy See, as the supreme body of government of the Catholic Church, is a sovereign juridical entity under international law. The United States and the Holy See consult and cooperate on international issues of mutual interest, including human rights, peace and conflict prevention, poverty eradication and development, environmental protection, and inter-religious understanding ... The United States and the Holy See enjoy a positive relationship that serves to amplify a global message of peace, hope, and justice."

This modern relationship between the government and the Catholic Church was born in 1984 when a "revised Concordat was signed defining the relations between the government and the church within Italy," according to the Department of State. At this time, the United States and the Holy See announced diplomatic relations.

While Pope Francis has used the Holy See to act as an advocate for "human dignity and justice," it's too early to tell how the fictional Pope Pius XIII will use this governing body. But considering that this is a fictional HBO series, I'm sure it will involve plenty of drama.