I obtained my tickets two ways for separate trips, email and fax.
When I faxed the request, I received a response in a few days also by fax telling me that my tickets had been reserved and that I should pick them up at the Bronze Door in St Peters Sq. late PM the day before the audience or the morning thereof.
The Bronze Door in question is to your left as you face the basilica behind Bernini's colonnade. There usually are Swiss Guards at he foot of the long staircase leading up to the chamber were the tickets are disbursed. I brought my confirmation fax with me should there be any questions.
Should it be of interest, my email request was sent to Rosanna Shedid, Parish Secretary at Rome's American Church of Santa Sussana (email@example.com). When confirmed, I was told to pick up the tickets at Santa Susanna the afternoon before the audience.
Hope this is of help.
Just returned from Rome. Used this site for on line tickets. Don't know about Papal audiences. Advance tickets through this site worked well. Bypassed a line 2 blocks long and walked right in through "group tours" line. Once inside it was back to the crowds. Don't go on last Sunday of the month when the museum is free[closed all other Sundays]. Drove by on that Sunday and the line went on forever. Hope this helps. Joel
Every Wednesday (except during the summer), the Pope holds a General Audience at the Audience Hall at St. Peter's Basilica. The Audience goes basically like this:
The Pope enters the Hall and greets everyone, then there's a small prayer and he sits down and reads a verse of the Bible, which will be translated into several languages, depending on the groups present that day. In my case, what was read was John 1:1 (I think), and was translated into English, French, Spanish, German and I believe Russian.
After the verse, His Holiness reads a sermon in Italian, then there's a few representatives from the languages mentioned above who call the groups. Some groups sing a little song for the audience and then part of the sermon is read by His Holiness in the language. In total, the Audience I attended was about 1.5 hours long.
Remember to dress appropriately to visit a holy place. One thing I didn't know is that you can enter the Hall with a bottle of water (which you probably might need).
Finally, the Audience ends with the Papal blessing, which is "Our Father" in Latin. The text is found behind the ticket you got for the Audience.
***How to get a FREE ticket: download a form, fill it in with the required information and send a fax to Prefettura della Casa Pontificia (details on the link below). Exactly a week after I did this, I got a letter saying that I got 2 tickets for the Audience held the Wednesday I was in Rome. When going to pick up the tickets, you go through a security check and only ONE person in your group can go to the ticket office to pick them up.
For us Catholics, this is essential but no matter what your religious convictions are, it's impressive to say that you were in Rome and saw the pope. When the weather is good, it's held outdoors in St. Peter's Square or, in inclement weather, the Paolo Sesto (Paul VI) hall. Naturally you want to go when it's good because the square is a magnificent setting, as you can tell from my photo. You have to get a ticket the day before or even earlier (the office is at the bronze doors on the side of the square near the papal apartments - just ask the Swiss Guard), and get there early on that day as you have to pass through checkpoints and a metal detector. Of course, the earlier you arrive, the better your chances are of getting a good seat, but you'll still have plenty of competition. The current pontiff keeps the event to less than an hour and at the end, he blesses everyone present and any religious articles they have. If it's your first time or if you're not familiar with it, be prepared for a celebration - from all the music and cheering, you'd think you were seeing a rock star! And if you're a photographer, pack your telephoto lens - no matter what time of year it is, it's always packed.
One thing that me and my husband did was went to the Papal Audience. It's every Wednesday at 10 am in front of St. Peter's. I would suggest getting there no later than 8 o'clock which does leave a lot of waiting, but it's nice to people watch. There's thousands of people that go. Getting in is kind of a pain, tourists don't seem to understand what 'forming a line' is, and they all just rush to the front. It does get rather irritating, but once you're in and you have a seat it's fine. The pope comes out and it's really amazing to see him in person. It goes on for about 2 hours and you cant understand him (being american). But they do blessings in all different languages, and at times they do speak english. My husband and I were very near the front and didn't want to have to deal with the crowd getting out, so we left about a 1/2 hour before it was over, but we were still able to hear the ending.
Tickets are free to this event so dont be conned into having to buy them. I emailed a church that offered them for free if you just go and pick them up which wasn't a problem cause the church was near Trevi which we were going to see that night anyways. The church was called Santa Susanna and the email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
We wouldn't have missed seeing the Pope!
It was a very moving experience, especially when groups spontaneously stood and sang for the Pope. We had the chance to see him on Wednesday, when he has an audience in La Sala Nervi at the Vatican. In the summer the Papal Audiences are held in the piazza for the larger crowds. Tickets are free by contacting the Vatican or going through your local church (as we did--our pastor requested them for us).
Now that he has passed, we feel especially blessed and happy to have had the chance to see JPII~Sophia was only 7 months old.
Papal Audiences are held weekly when the Pope is in town. Tickets are required but you can get them on Monday or Tuesday from the Office at St. Peter's.
The Pope also greets and blesses visitors from his apartment window on Sundays at noon. This ceremony is called the Angelus. No tickets are required. Just stand in the square
When the pope is in Rome, he gives a public audience every Wednesday beginning at 10:30am (sometimes at 10am in summer). It takes place in the Paul VI Hall of Audiences, although sometimes St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square are used to accommodate a large attendance. Anyone is welcome, but you must first obtain a free ticket from the office of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, accessible from St. Peter's Square by the Bronze Door, where the colonnade on the right (as you face the basilica) begins. The office is open from Monday to Saturday 9am to 1pm. Tickets are readily available on Monday and Tuesday; sometimes you won't be able to get into the office on Wednesday morning. Occasionally, if there's enough room, you can attend without a ticket.
You can also write ahead to the Prefecture of the Papal Household, 00120 Città del Vaticano (tel. 06-698-83114), indicating your language, the dates of your visit, the number of people in your party, and (if possible) the hotel in Rome to which the cards should be sent the afternoon before the audience. American Catholics, armed with a letter of introduction from their parish priest, should apply to the North American College, Via dell'Umiltà 30, 00187 Roma (tel. 06-690-011).
At noon on Sunday, the pope speaks briefly from his study window and gives his blessing to the visitors and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. From about mid-July to mid-September, the Angelus and blessing take place at the summer residence at Castelgandolfo, some 16 miles out of Rome and accessible by metro and bus.