Wednesdays are the Pope's audience day, and if you are lucky enough (like me) you might get to see him during one of those days when he appears in public at St Peter's Square. I did get a very good vantage point near the fountain, and what is amazing is not seeing the Pope himself (I'm not Catholic), but the reaction from his "flock."
I was standing right next to two middle-aged women from Latin America and they cried their heart out when the Pope passed by us, giving his blessing. One of the women told me she waited all her life for this. Extraordinary emotion.
As expected, security is tighter when the Pope appears in public, so get ready to queue to enter the square.
We didn't know if there would be a service the day we visited the Vatican because the Pope can be out of town but fortunately he was there and was going to give a mass! But then I thought 'will I be able to see him closer?' and then I saw in the screens that his car was approaching to where I was, and then all of a sudden I had him almost in front of me!
I must confess that I was happy to see Benedict XVI but I would have broken into tears if I'd seen John Paul II.
If my memory is correct, the service is given in 5 languages: French, Italian, English, Spanish and German.
I heard there were hundreds and hundreds of people during the services and that I'd be lucky if I'd seen the pope from very far away, but surprisingly there wasn't such a crowd. Will it be that this pope is not as popuar as JPII?? I don't know, but I was excited to see Benedict XVI even though I loved JPII
On most Wednesdays the pope holds an audience in St Peter's square for thousands of people. The best seats are not in the plaza but up on the steps to the Basilica. Here couples married in the last 2 months can get tickets to be close to the pope, have their union blessed and perhaps receive an individual blessing if he has time.
For a Catholic couple this is very cool, and even in the sweltering heat of Rome in July couples don their tuxcidos and wedding gowns toreceive this special blessing.
Tickets are avalible from various churches in Rome. Americans can contact the American Chapel, Santa Susana and request tickets. They are extremely friendly and helpful and their website tells the policies and requirements. This is only for Couples who have been recently married in a Catholic service.
Santa Susana can also help with regular tickets.
it was all in Italian, i was neat even though I didn't understand a single word of it. then again, i think it almost made church more enjoyable not having a clue what they were talking about. once the service started noone was allowed to enter or leave.
After the death of the much loved Polish Pope John Paul II, German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI. He is a hard liner who favours the 'old ways'. JPII was the first non Italian Pope since 1523 so it's currently 2 in a row.
Meeting with the representatives of science in the Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg (September 12, 2006) The Speech in full
instead of relying on reactionary statements
again quoted our of context by media
who use sensationalism to gather larger readership
or sales of their newspapers
When the exumed Pope John XXIII's body several years after his death; they noticed that he had not decomposed. They declared it a miracle, covered his body in wax, and put him on display in the Basillica. He looks like he is only sleeping. Its a bit creepy.
How to Request an Audience with the Pope in Rome
How to apply for an event or blessing from the Pope:
You might also attend the Wednesday General Audience held in St Peter's Square. In winter the audience is held in the Paul VI Hall accessed just to the left of the Square - tickets required. Tickets should be reserved well ahead of time. In winter the audience is held in the Paul VI Hall accessed just to the left of the Square with the same ticket stipulation.
The Pope generally appears on Sundays at noon and can be seen from Vatican Square at the second window from the right of the Apostolic Palace where he prays the Angelus and blesses the crowd in the Square - no ticket required.
During July and August the Pope is at his summer residence and the General Audience is held in the Courtyard in the town of Castelgandolfo (16 miles from Rome). Tickets are not required but space is very limited.
Here are our best suggestions:
You might try to arrange an audience by phone through the Prefecture of the Pontifical House of the Vatican City: Tel: 011-39-06-698-83017
Arranging a Papal Audience through Santa Susanna via a Web Form (this would be our preference).
Santa Susanna, home of the American Catholic Church in Rome, offers a means of aquiring tickets to Papal Masses and Papal Audiences by filling out a web form well in advance of your trip to Rome. They inform us that the Papal Audience procedure is now back to normal and audiences will continue through May, June and July 2006. They will attempt to make your tickets available for pick up at the church the evening before the event.
The website for Santa Susanna:
Although rarely available, you may be able to reserve a Papal Blessing.
Some things are just meant to be! We went to visit St. Peter's church and stood in line to enter. It turns out that we stood in the wrong line and instead of entering St. Peter's church we got invitations to a general audience with the Pope the very next day.
One person / family at a time is allowed to pass through by the Swiss guard, walk up the stairs, and request an audience. Invitations are then handed back. The invitations of course are free.
On the next day, the actual audience occured in the building to the left of St. Peter's. The lines were really long and the security was intense (So leave any useless metal gadgets back at the hotel if you would like to move faster through security checks). Inside the auditorium, the energy was unbelievable. 'Papa' John Paul II blessed the congregation in different languages while youth from different countries (earrings, noserings, mohawks and all) chanted and clapped in rhythm ... 'Giovanni Paulo, Giovanni Paulo'... all a huge gathering to pay tribute to one of the most important people on Earth.
I truly believe that this was meant to be, since this was a life-long dream of Ash, and we had only 3 days in Rome.
Dont forget to bring along any items, such as a rosary or a pendant, etc. if you would like them to be blessed by the Pope.
[Footnote - Pope Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Karol Wojtyla, recently passed away. Even though Eva & I had but a few minutes in his presence, the strong feeling of losing someone we knew well was alarming. May his soul rest in peace. I hope that the newly elected pope will bring good things - to the Church as an institution and to the lives of people, through Christianity.]
The adjoining snap was taken from the inside of St. Peter's dome high above the church. I had to position the camera way over my head with my arms outstretched and angled in such a way that I would clear the wrought iron railing which protected tourists from falling over. Eva being a little dizzy from the height preferred standing against the wall, away from the railing.
The Vatican holds mass daily. Each Christmas, the Pope himself says mass to the standing-room-only crowd. Personally I would think Easter and Christmas vigil, with thousands of candles all glowing softly around you, would be the best possible times to make a visit, though the service could be a little long and tiring.
Service details are available from the tourist office in the Piazza.