13. September 2018

Papal audience and masses with the Pope: Registration, program & entry

Papal mass and audience in Rome: The Vatican is the seat of the papacy and thus the center of the Catholic Church. For many people, the Vatican City is a must-do during their holiday program in Rome. When visiting Vatican City you can see the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica with its impressive dome. If you want to meet the Pope, you can participate in a papal audience or mass in Rome. In this article I will tell you how to sign up for a papal audience, when papal audiences in Rome take place and the prices of admission to the papal audiences in Rome. 

Papal audience Rome: How to attend a papal audience in Rome

I can proudly say that I saw the Pope up close, since I recently attended a papal audience in Rome. What an experience! It was a general audience to which usually a large crowd is expected. Very few people can experience a private papal audience. This picture shows how close I got to see the Pope during the general audience in Rome:

papal visit

Not bad, isn’t it? Just like me, you also have the possibility to attend a papal audience in the Vatican City. However, it needs preparation: first, you should get to know when the next papal audience in Rome takes place, second, you should book your tickets in advance and last but not least you should arrive to St Peter’s Square as early as possible to make sure you get the best seats.

Rome St Peter's Square by day St Peter's square st Peter's square general audience rome

Large crowds are expected to such an incredible event. Many visitors arrive to St Peter’s Square early in the morning and don’t mind waiting for hours to get a good view on the Pope.

How to participate in a papal mass in the Vatican: All the information you need!

In order to participate in a mass led by the Pope in person you have to reserve a seat in advance. On the website of the Prefecture of the Papal Household you can find information about whether a registration for the general audience is necessary or not. In most cases, if not every time you will need entry tickets to attend the papal audience. Like this, the Vatican knows how many people to expect. 

st Peter's Basilica without waiting line

One very important information right at the beginning: Tickets to attend a papal audience in Rome are free of charge! You don’t have to pay anything to see the Pope during your visit to Rome. Quite often you can find tickets for the papal audience for which you actually have to pay. If these tickets don’t include any other service but the papal audience, they are most likely a scam! Be cautious.

The schedule for the papal masses in Rome can be found at the Prefecture of the Papal Household. You can reserve tickets there or at the pilgrim center. The papal mass is very much in demand and to secure your seat, you should book in advance as soon as possible! You can pick up tickets which you bought online on the days preceding the papal audience. Pick-up location is the pilgrim center in Via del Banco del Santo Spirito 56. The office is open on Mondays from 9 am to 1 pm and Tuesdays from 9 am to 6 pm. On the day of the papal audience no ticket pick up is possible anymore. 

When attending a papal audience in Rome you can chose between organising everything yourself, which is of course free of charge or booking a guided tour. I booked a tour to see the Pope. Our guide gave us many tips and lots of information about St Peter’s Basilica, St Peter’s Square and the Vatican via audioguide. Thanks to our guide we could pass the waiting lines and the security check at the entry to the Vatican. Everything worked out perfectly, our guide knew exactly when to be there to get the best seats. He also showed us the best seats to have an excellent view on the Pope.

Papal audience Rome: Where do papal audiences take place in Rome?

Papal audiences take place on St Peter’s Square in front of St Peter’s Basilica. When I got to see the Pope I was – which I was told afterwards – very lucky. Since I attended a papal audience during low season, the attending crowd was smaller than during high season and therefore, the papal audience was held in the audience hall Paolo VI. which was opened in 1971.

 swiss guard in front of papal audience hall vatican papal audience hall

You get a lot closer to the Pope inside the audience hall than on St Peter’s Square. In addition, on the day I saw the Pope, it was raining. As I learned that day, rain is not a reason to move the papal audience from St Peter’s Square inside. In case of rain you should hence bring umbrellas and rain coats because you will spend several hours in the pouring rain.

Papal audience Rome: When do papal audiences in Rome take place?

The papal audience in Rome is also called Wednesday audience. The name already tells you when papal audiences take place: every Wednesday, as long as the Pope is at the Vatican and not travelling or attending any other event.

Papal audience Rome: Best time and security check

To be in the front and get a good view on the Pope there is only one thing to do: arrive early. When I attended the papal audience I arrived to St Peter’s Square at 7 am. The early bird catches the worm, if you want to see the Pope up close. So get up early, even though you are on vacation. Usually the Pope arrives at 9:30 am. Doors open at 7:30 am and the best seats will be gone in minutes. As I said, try to be there as early as possible and in any case, try to be there before 9 am, that’s when the doors close and no more visitors will be accepted for the papal audience.

security checks in front of papal audience hall security checks vatican rome security checks papal audience

The security checks at the entry are pretty much as when you go to the airport. Your luggage, cameras, phones and backpacks will be scanned and and you have to walk through a metal detector. Afterwards you pick up your belongings and continue to the audience hall or St Peter’s Square. Standing in front of St Peter’s Basilica the security check to the papal audience is on your left.

Papal audience Rome: Procedure of a papal audience in Rome

Shortly after 9 am the names of big pre-registered groups from near and far will be read out loud, usually this goes along with cheering in different languages and choral like demands for ‘Papa Francesco, Papa Francesco’. It is almost like a concert and you won’t get rid of this feeling. At the latest when the Pope finally arrives and cheers and camera flashes set in you feel like meeting a superstar. When the papal audience takes place, the Pope arrives at 9:30 am in his popemobile and makes his way through the rows of believers.

waiting for the pope pilgrims at papal audience in Rome arrival pope pope mass

Inside the audience hall he stops to see the pilgrims and everyone who came to see him, gives autographs (if that is what you call the Pope’s signature), blesses personal belongings like wedding rings and rosaries and kisses children and babies on their foreheads. After a while he arrives to the stage in front and starts reading, which will be translates in several languages. In the end he gives his blessing to the crowd. The audience ends close to 11 am.

Pope-Francesco pope at papal audience Pope's arrival

Good to know: On the day of the papal audience St Peter’s Basilica remains closed until at least noon or even longer. If you want to follow the papal audience from far away, you can tune in to the Vatican’s official TV channel, where the papal audience will be broadcasted live. In addition big screens will be put up on St Peter’s Square.

Papal audience Rome: Dress code and rules for the papal audience and visitors

If you want to participate in a papal audience, you need to follow some rules. The dress code prescribes that shoulders and knees must be covered. It is furthermore prohibited to bring glass bottles or knives into the church or to St Peter’s Square during a papal audience. 

Papal audience for newlyweds in Rome

Newlyweds have the special opportunity to attend the papal audience in Rome up to 3 months after their wedding. They are assigned special seats during the audience.

visit-st-peters-basilica-in-rome

To participate as a new married couple, it is necessary to fill an application. This is not a problem as you may think. But it gets more tricky once you have to appear in your wedding dress to claim your reserved seats!

Papal mass Rome: How to participate in a papal mass in Rome

To attend a papal mass, which means a mass held by the Pope himself, you need to reserve tickets in advance! The only mass that doesn’t require rebooked tickets is the yearly Good Friday mass at the Colosseum on Easter. information about the days on which masses held by the Pope take place in St Peter’s Basilica can be found on the Prefecture of the Papal Household’s official calendar. To make sure of getting a seat you should book your tickets as early as possible. Tickets go fast! 

waiting line papal audience Rome

The Angelus prayer on St Peter’s Square in Rome

A third way to see the Pope besides the papal audience and the papal mass is the Angelus prayer on St Peter’s Square. Every Sunday at noon, and sometimes on other days as well, the Pope says the Angelus prayer on St Peter’s Square in Rome, gives a little speech and blesses the crowd.

St Peter's square in rome

To attend the Angelus prayer you don’t need tickets or a reservation. But: Come early to get the best seats. The Angelus prayer only takes place while the Pope is in Rome.

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  1. PLEASE, WE ARE (2)FROM GHANA AND WANT TO ATTEND 24TH NIGHT VIGIL MASS WITH POPE FRANCIS. ANY HELP IN THIS MATTER WOULD BE APPRECIATED

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