Sede Vacante is a Latin term meaning, “the seat is open.”
It indicates the time between the death of one pope and the election of the next pope.
Father Richard Kunst:
This passport was issued a week after Gregory XVI was elected, so technically it was not a sede vacante document despite the heading suggesting it was.
It is likely they were just waiting for new documents to be printed and authorized by the new pope.
The Sede Vacante period to which this document refers lasted about three months.
A very unusual addition to this Collection!
About Passports Issued in the Papal States
Passports are items that have ink stamps on them. Every country issues its own passports to indicate that somebody belongs to that particular country and is in good standing there and, therefore, able to travel to other countries as well. And the Papal States were no different. The Papal States as a nation, up until 1870, had their own passports, and this item is a passport from the time of Pope Gregory XVI with a lot of different ink stamps on it.
Passports are a difficult item to obtain because a lot of auction houses will not actually sell passports because they are associated with someone’s identity.
Vatican City State issues passports today. Everyone who is made Cardinal is issued a passport as a citizen of the Papal State to make it easier for him or her to travel around Italy and Europe. —Fr. Richard Kunst