I’ve been to Rome a number of times, for leisure and for religious reasons. Many visitors to Rome wish to see Pope Francis. Tickets are always free, and if you’re an American, the best way to request tickets for either a Papal Mass or Audience is to contact the Pontifical North American College in Rome. This is where all the American men in seminary to become priests go for their final three years of study.
The Holy Father holds a General Audience on most Wednesday mornings in Vatican City at 10:00 a.m. Audiences are usually held in St. Peter’s Square unless it’s too cold, in which case the audience is held in the Paul VI audience hall. Tickets are for the chairs set out in St. Peter’s Square, in order to get a seat, you must have a ticket. Though you can line up along the outside barriers, it is much better to have a seat.
All who attend have the unique opportunity to pray with the Holy Father and receive his blessing, which is offered to all who are present and to their families and friends back home.
When you send your request via email, you should include the following information:
- Your name and the name of those attending
- The date you would like to attend
- The number of people in your party
- It is also a good idea to include information on your parish involvement if Catholic or for the reason you wish to attend an audience.
A few tips on getting the best seat:
Though the audience begins at 10:00 the security gates open at 8:00 a.m., I would suggest beginning to get in line at least by seven o’clock, especially during peak seasons. You will not be allowed to bring in any bags larger than a back pack. You’ll have to pass through a metal detector, so being prepared in advance with your electronics and such helps speed things up.
If you wish to get a good view of the Pope, once inside the gates, try to get a seat along the perimeter. At the end of the audience he will usually drive around a few times and this is the best opportunity to see him up close.
For religious items you wish to have blessed you need only have them with you, and have the intention for the Pope’s blessing to be bestowed on them.
Bring snacks and water… If you get there early enough the wait can be a long one. The audience itself usually lasts about two hours, and having a rumbling tummy or a parched throat will only be distractions from the Pope’s message. There are restroom facilities on sight, and a few snack stands just outside of Vatican City in front of St. Peter’s Square, that sell: water, gelato, chips, and hot dogs- I think; but they are pricey, so coming prepared ahead of time will save you a few euro. Dress appropriately according the season and weather. I’ve attended audiences in both warm and cold weather and being prepared helps make your experience even more amazing.
The Pope will speak in Italian, and there will be guest speakers usually bishops, from various parts of the world relating a part of his message in various languages, however if you wish to read his full message on the day of your visit, check the Vatican Radio website a few weeks after your audience for the complete transcript.