Vatican - Papal Audience, Rome
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.
Vatican City, the residence of the Pope is one of the most crowded tourist attractions in Rome. The sistine chapel is probably the most famous attraction inside the Vatican palace. Michelangelo's masterpiece adorns the ceiling inside this chapel and rumors have it that this is bullet proof to protect this priceless treasure from any damage of the extreme variety.
There is also an entrance fee (8 Euros) to go to the top of the dome from where you can get a magnificient view of the Vatican city. The stairs to the top are very narrow and at times very slanting making it very difficult to climb. Many people get dizzy for lack of air and the slightly claustrophobic atmosphere of the staircase and so caution is recommended when climbing up, particularly for elderly people.
The Vatican has its own postoffice and is considered one of the most efficient one. It also has its own stamps that are not valid from other parts of Italy. Stamps bought at other post offices are NOT valid when you mail your postcards from Vatican post office.
Give yourself atleast a full day to go through Vatican at a leisurely place.
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
“Remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm, and look to the future with confidence.”
— His Holiness Pope John Paul II, from his general audience homily, 3.January.2001
Tickets to a Papal General Audience are free. We attended the first one of the New Year 2001, on Wednesday, the 3rd of January. It was not scheduled to begin until 10 am, but we rose at the crack of dawn to reach Piazza di San Pietro by 8:30 to get good seats, which we did. (Seats are not reserved.) It was raining, off and on. But that did not dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. The square was filled with 40,000 of the faithful.
When the Holy Father came racing around the corner in his popemobile the crowd erupted into cheers and applause. He waved vigorously. His vehicle drove through the wide aisles of the square, then up the steps of the basilica to bring him to the dais, where he delivered his homily.
A bishop from five different countries, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and America, came forward to read an introduction with mention of the groups present from those countries. The Holy Father read his homily in each of those languages. For Poland he gave the introduction and homily himself. Then he gave an apostolic blessing to all present; family members, especially sick ones, of those present; and for religious items, such as rosaries.
Technology to the rescue: to reach a wider audience, two jumbo television screens were set up to telecast the Holy Father’s image for all in the square to see. Fittingly one was placed at St. Peter’s feet, the other at the feet of St. Paul.
These two hours made for a very exciting, thrilling morning.
It seems that Benedict XVI continues the tradition of his predecessor. John Paul II made his appearance on his balcony every Sunday at noon. On the first possible occasion (Sunday noon, May 1st, 2005) the new pope as well gave his blessings to the people gathered on the square.
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.
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.
It's great if you can get to the Vatican on a Wednesday because the Pope usually comes out to give a speech that morning. If you take a walking tour with Romeing Tours they have a group that goes to the Vatican on Wednesdays. They'll tell you exactly where to stand to get a great picture of the Pope up close, too, because before he gives his speech he rides around the crowd. I highly recommend their tours.
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
just an impression of Vatican City, we did not visit the museum, its was so crowded but we saw the pope on a huge screen.
more info about Vatican City and the museum and daily mess
I am not a religious person, but visiting the Vatican and seeing the Pope is one of the most powerful and intense experiences I have had in my whole life.
People from all over the world congregate at St. Peter's Square on Sunday to wait for the Papal blessing at noon. The atmosphere is just so incredible, it brought tears to my eyes!
Even if you are not catholic, this is something that you don't want to miss!
On Sunday at 12 PM, make your way to St Peters Square. Here you can hear, along with the other 1000's of people, the Pope give his speech/blessing to the masses. While it is in Italian, it is still an impressive thing to witness, even if you do not understand.
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
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.
What better to do on the 7th day of rest around noon than to gather with the masses in St. Peter's square and see the See throw open the windows of his high library window, toss out his papal tapestries and praise the week in a swath of languages. Cheer along with your fellow native speakers as he switches to your language and notice, if you, too, have mad polylingual skillz, how he tunes the same speech a bit for each nation's pious. We brought our own little vial of water and are hoping that it now counts as holy water. Get your own on Via del Maschinero nearby and fill it with some soon-to-be holy water! Stay for the music and the very pious communities of dancers. At least enjoy the myriad banners and their various sentiments. Praise be the 16 eggs Benedict! Macht gut und habt keine Angst!