(M.L., ambasciare, to go on mission)

Minister of high rank sent by head of a sovereign state as personal representative. In Catholic countries the pope's ambassador, nuncio, legate, or envoy has precedence over other members of the diplomatic corps. The first permanent envoys of the Holy See were the apocrisarii (Greek: apokrisis, an answer) sent to the court of Constantinople about the middle of the 5th century. The use of a private chapel for the ambassadors of a Catholic country at a Protestant court and vice versa, is always allowed. The Sardinian, Neapolitan, Venetian, Bavarian, Portuguese, and Spanish ambassadors had their private chapels in London even when the Catholic religion was proscribed in England. The Sardinian (erected, 1648), Bavarian (1747), and Spanish (1742) chapels were even opened to the public and became eventually ordinary parochial churches. The two former still exist; the latter was replaced (1890) by a handsome church. The Holy See has nuncios Apostolic in Argentina, Austria, Bavaria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Spain, Switzerland, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia; internuncios in Central .America (comprising Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Salvador), Haiti, Holland, Luxemburg; it has also diplomatic representatives in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Irish Free State, Liberia, and Uruguay. These nations send ambassadors to the Holy See: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Peru, Poland. Nations represented by ministers plenipotentiary are: Austria, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, Haiti, Hungary, Irish Free State, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Monaco, Nicaragua, Portugal, Rumania Salvador, San Marino, Venezuela, Yugoslavia. The United States Legation, established in 1852, was suppressed in 1868.

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