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How to Get Papal Audience Tickets

Do you want to know how to get Papal audience tickets? Tickets to see Pope Francis give a Papal Audience or Papal Mass are free, and (relatively) easy to get.

Saint Peter's SquareSaint Peter's Square at the Vatican, where most Papal audiences are held

Here's everything you need to know about getting free tickets to Papal Audiences and Papal Masses



When do I need tickets to see Pope Francis?

Tickets are required to attend any Papal Audience (which is not a mass, but rather a general audience), or a Papal Mass. There may be other times you can see Pope Francis that do not require tickets. 

Tickets to Papal Audience and Papal Masses are pretty easy to request. Most of the time, you can easily get tickets to the Wednesday General (Papal) Audience.

Getting tickets to Papal Masses is mostly the same, but of course tickets to popular Papal Masses, such as during Christmas and Easter are much harder to come by.

All about the Papal Audience

What is a Papal Audience?

So what is a Papal Audience? Also called the General Audience, this is when the Holy Father addresses the crowd, usually in different languages. It's not a mass but the Pope gives a themed speech, followed by prayers, a homily, and some singing.

The Pope may bless babies that people hold up for him (if you want him to bless yours, you need to get pretty close, which means getting there very early.)

At the end of the ceremony, the Pope will bless religious articles. If you have arrived in Rome with a rosary or bible or other object that you want blessed, bring it with you. Or, you can buy these objects in many places in Rome, especially around the Vatican, and certainly inside the Vatican gift shop.

The whole thing lasts around 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

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When and where are Papal Audiences held?

The General Audience is held (nearly) every Wednesday at 10 or 10:30am, when Pope Francis is in Rome. Check the Vatican website for the schedule, location and start time; and also to make sure Pope Francis is here.

Papal Audiences held in Saint Peter's Square

Most of the time, the Papal Audience is held in Saint Peter's Square, which can accommodate around 80,000 people (not all sitting of course.) 

Papal Audiences held in the Paul VI Audience Hall

During the cold winter months, or if it's raining hard, then the General Audience will be in Paul VI Audience Hall, which is to the left of Saint Peter's Basilica as you face it. This space can only accommodate around 6000 people.

If you have a ticket to a Papal Audience, it does not guarantee you entry. Once the crowd is at capacity, they will stop letting people in, even those with tickets. 

The earlier you get there, the better chance you have of getting in, getting a seat, or even getting a spot close to where Pope Francis will be. 

The Swiss guards start letting people enter around 8am.

Papal Audiences in late summer

If the Pope is in Rome, but on summer holiday, there will not be any Papal Audiences at the Vatican. Previous Popes have spent their summer holiday at the Papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, a beautiful lake town just outside of Rome, and easily accessible by train. In those cases, they held Papal Audiences there (no tickets required.) However, so far Pope Francis has not spent the summer at Castel Gandolfo.

You can check Pope Francis' schedule on the Vatican website (although it only gives his schedule 2-3 months ahead.)

In 2014 and 2015, Pope Francis did not hold any Papal Audiences during July, but he did in August. He also still held the Sunday Angelus in Saint Peter's Square, in both July and August. So if you are coming in the later summer months to Rome, you may not be able to attend a Papal Audience, but you might still see Pope Francis if he is here and giving the Angelus.

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What's the best way to get Papal Audience tickets?


Write directly to the Vatican for tickets

The most direct way to request Papal Audience tickets is to visit the website of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, where you can download the form to fill out. You will need to fax it in and wait to hear back. You will get an answer only if you are granted tickets. The Prefecture of the Papal Household does not have an email address so the only way to request your Papal Audience tickets directly through the Vatican is via fax.

IMPORTANT TIP: On the website you use to download the form, it gives you the fax number, which is:

+39 06 6988 5863

The + indicates that the call is international, and it's what we use when dialling an international number from our cell phones. But you cannot dial a + with a fax. So you need to dial whatever number your country uses, to indicate this is an international call.

If dialling from the US or Canada, dial 011 39 06 6988 5863

If dialling from Europe, dial 00 39 06 6988 5863

If dialling from Australia, dial 0011 39 06 6988 5863

The Vatican receives a lot of faxes, so you may find the number busy. Just keep trying.

You will not receive an answer if there are no tickets available.

Once you are informed you have tickets, you may pick them up at the Bronze Door where the Swiss Guard stand, at the earliest the day prior to the audience, between 3-7pm (6pm in winter), or on the morning of the audience from 7-10am.

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Request Papal Audience tickets via email through American sources in Rome

Another easy way to request Papal Audience tickets is to send an email (visitorsoffice@pnac.org) with your request to the Pontifical North American College. They will email you back confirming or your denying your request, and give you instructions for picking up your tickets. If you are granted tickets, you will need to pick them up from their office near the Trevi Fountain. You can do this on the afternoon prior to the audience, between 3-7pm.

You may also send an email to the American Church in Rome, Santa Susanna. They will email you back with an answer and pickup instructions.


Request Papal Audience Tickets directly from the Swiss Guard at the Vatican

bronze door at vaticanBronze door of the Swiss Guard - photo courtesy of Jean-Pol Grandmont


If you are in Rome up to 3 days prior to the Papal Audience you want to attend, and have not requested tickets, you may go to Saint Peter's Square, and visit the Swiss Guards at the bronze door which is on the right hand side of the colonnade as you look at the basilica.

You may request a maximum of 9 tickets from the Swiss Guard, in person, up to 3 days prior to the Papal Audience. They do have some tickets available on hand for those who request them this way.

But there is no guarantee they will have any tickets left, so this is a good option only if you have not requested Papal Audience tickets in advance.

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If you have plans to visit the Vatican Monday or Tuesday before the audience, this can be convenient. Otherwise, it means spending a good half-day doing this, out of your busy Rome itinerary.

So it's not a great option if you are not already planning to visit the Vatican before the Papal Audience.

If you need 10 or more tickets, you must request tickets in advance, via one of the above methods.

And, if it's high season when you are in Rome, you are better off requesting tickets in advance, and if possible, as far in advance as possible.

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All About Papal Masses


What is a Papal Mass?

A Papal mass (also called a Liturgical celebration), is a solemn high mass, celebrated by the Pope himself. 

The best known, and most popular of these Papal Masses, are those held during Easter and Christmas. The Pope might hold holy mass also for the canonization of a saint, or for another special, solemn occasion. 


When and where are Papal Masses held?

When the Pope holds mass in Rome, it is usually inside Saint Peter's Basilica, but may be held in other basilicas in Rome. The schedule and location are on the Vatican website.

The Pope does usually not hold mass on Sundays at Saint Peters (although there are many other priests giving Mass on Sunday there.) Pope Francis does address the crowd in Saint Peter's Square, with the Angelus, every Sunday at noon (when he is in Rome.)


What's the best way to get tickets to Papal Masses?

Tickets are required to attend any Papal Mass. They are free, but can be very hard to come by if for Easter Sunday and Christmas midnight mass. 

You may use all the above resources for requesting tickets to Papal Masses, as you would for Papal Audience tickets, with the exception of contacting Santa Susanna church. They only handle requests for Papal Audience tickets. 

So you may

  • Visit the website of the Prefecture of the Papal Household and download the form to fax.
  • Send an email (visitorsoffice@pnac.org) with your request to the Pontifical North American College
  • Try showing up at the Bronze doors where the Swiss Guard are, to the right of Saint Peter's Basilica, to ask for Papal Mass tickets for an upcoming mass, if it's within a few days, and only for a maximum of 6 tickets. But this is not a good option for popular Christmas and Easter Papal Masses, as they must be booked months in advance.

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