A New Tenant at Villa Bonaparte

April 07, 2022
Source: fsspx.news
Villa Bonaparte

A prestigious emblem of the diplomatic network, the interface between the Elysée and the Holy See, the French Embassy to the Holy See has just received its new tenant, in the person of Florence Mangin, as confirmed by the decree signed by the President of the Republic and published in the Official Journal on March 29, 2022.

A graduate of Sciences Po Paris and ENA – Condorcet promotion, that of Valérie Pécresse, candidate for the 2022 presidential election and president of the Ile-de-France region – Florence Mangin is the second woman to inherit a coveted post, the oldest of French diplomacy.

It was indeed in the wake of the rise of the Papal States, at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century, that the French Embassy was officially instituted in 1467, first occupying the prestigious Palazzo Farnese – since taken over by the French Embassy in Italy – then the iconic Villa Bonaparte, a property built for Pope Benedict XIV's Secretary of State, and which was to be used by the Corsican family: quite a symbol!

“From the end of the Hundred Years' War until the French Revolution, France sent about 57 ambassadors to the Apostolic See,” specifies Bernard Lecomte in his Dictionary of Devotees of the Popes, including Chateaubriand who represented King Charles X there.

If the staff there is now very small, the embassy has the particularity of having its own cultural institute – the St. Louis Center – and a private foundation, the Pious Establishments of France in Rome and in Loretto, which manages a real estate portfolio of thirteen buildings in the Eternal City: enough to guarantee it income commensurate with its mission.

Because it would be a mistake to see this singular embassy as a symbolic post: as François-Xavier Tilliette reminds us, “through its vast network of nunciatures (equivalent to embassies of the Holy See), which interact with the local Churches, the Holy See has a network that allows feedback from the field.”

But not just anyone can hold the prestigious position of ambassador to the Holy See: in 2015, the candidate proposed by François Hollande had not received the approval of the Secretariat of State – a silence which is explained by reason of the claimant's proven homosexuality. François Hollande refused to give in, and the Villa Bonaparate remained without an ambassador for more than a year...

In any case, Florence Mangin's diplomatic mission will not be easy: societal issues - bioethics, euthanasia, law on separatism - show that France and the Holy See are far from always being on the same length of wave, even if Msgr. Paul R. Gallagher, number three man in the Secretariat of State highlights, not without humour, “the excellent collaboration between the Holy See and the eldest daughter of the Church.”