Easter Celebrations in Rome - Dates, Events, and Masses in 2024

Wondering what the Easter celebrations in Rome are like?

What are the key dates and events to know? 

Easter celebrations in Rome at St Peter's BasilicaThe Easter celebrations in Rome are a special time for the city, especially if you have the chance to see the Pope in St Peter's Square

What you can do in Rome during Easter week? Read on to find out!

Easter in Rome, Italy

Easter in Rome goes on for quite some time, starting with Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent, continuing through Holy Week, and finally finishing on the Pentecost.

Because the timing of Easter varies, the dates and key celebrations are different each year - read on to find out everything you need to know about Easter in Rome, Italy in 2024:

Easter celebrations in Rome - papal audienceEaster in Rome mean lots of Papal masses and audiences - a great time to see the Pope!

Easter Celebrations in Rome - All the Details

While there are many important dates across the whole of the Easter period, these are the most important celebrations for Easter in Rome.

Read on to find out more about what they mean, what you can expect, and how to join in the celebrations:

In addition to the in-person Easter masses and events in Rome, the main celebrations will also be broadcast on the Vatican's official YouTube channel online.

So you can still join in even if you can't be in Rome yourself!

To see detailed and updated information about all Vatican events over Easter, visit the Vatican website. 

Click the link for the Calendar, and go to the month in question - be aware that it's only updated a couple of months in advance. 

Ash Wednesday

what is ash wednesday?

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is actually the very first part of Easter. In 2024, Ash Wednesday falls on February 14th.

Lent is traditionally a time of fasting, representing the time Christ spent fasting in the wilderness.

You may see people with ashes on their forehead on this day, as the special mass that takes place on Ash Wednesday is all about penitence and reflection ahead of the long Lenten period.

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ash wednesday easter celebrations in rome

There are two main Easter celebrations in Rome on Ash Wednesday.

Pope Francis, in an ancient tradition revived by Pope John XXII in the 1960's, will first hold a liturgy at the church of Sant'Anselmo on the Aventine hill (right by the famous keyhole with the view of St Peter's Basilica).

From there, he will lead a penitential procession to the nearby basilica of Santa Sabina, where he will hold a Holy Mass with the blessing and imposition of the Ashes.

  • Church of Sant’Anselmo: Liturgy takes place at 4:30pm, before the Pope walks to
  • Santa Sabina: Holy Mass, Blessing and Imposition of the Ashes starting at 5:00pm

If you want to attend either event, it's free but you will need tickets. Here's how to request them.

NOTE: If you cannot get tickets to these events, you may wish to try getting tickets to the regular Papal Audience, which will be held on the morning of Ash Wednesday in Saint Peter's Square.

Easter in RomeSanta Sabina Church on the Aventine Hill - one of the prettiest and oldest churches in Rome

Do you want to attend English church services for Easter celebrations in Rome?

Visit AngloInfo for a pretty complete listing.

Palm Sunday

what is palm sunday?

Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week, the seven days leading up to the main Easter weekend.

It commemorates the day Jesus entered Jerusalem, where he was greeted by crowds of people laying palm branches at his feet.

Easter celebrations in Rome - the Pope on Palm SundayPope Francis celebrating Palm Sunday in Vatican Square - photo courtesy of Fox News

palm sunday easter celebrations in rome

The main Easter celebrations in Rome start on Palm Sunday, when the Pope holds a special mass in St Peter's Square, Vatican City.

Rome during Easter week 2024 starts on Palm Sunday March 24th.

Starting at 9:30am in St Peter's Square, there is a Blessing of the Palms and Holy Mass conducted by Pope Francis.

It's free to attend this mass but you do need a ticket. Get there early, be prepared to stand for a long time, and be prepared for crowds.

During Easter in Rome, where palm trees are not that plentiful, olive tree branches are used instead.

They symbolize peace and are representative of local culture.

olive branches on Palm Sunday - Easter celebrations in RomeOlive branches used in Rome for Palm Sunday

Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday

what is maundy thursday?

Holy Thursday is the day when the Last Supper with Jesus and his disciples is remembered, along with Jesus washing their feet (the name 'maundy' comes from the term for this rite).

maundy thursday easter celebrations in rome

On Maundy Thursday, there are two masses you can attend, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

In 2024, Maundy Thursday falls on March 28th.

The Pope will perform a morning mass in St Peter's Basilica at 9:30am.

This is an unusual Mass as it's one of the rare ones during the year held in the morning.

And, it's probably your best chance at seeing the Pope with a slightly smaller crowd than you will find on Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday.

In the evening, at 5:30pm, there is a second papal mass, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, held in Basilica of St. John Lateran, to commemorate Christ’s bathing of the Apostles’ feet.

Good Friday

what is good friday?

Rome during Easter week 2024 culminates in Good Friday, the day commemorating Jesus' crucifixion and his death.

It is traditionally a day of fasting and solemnity, and across Italy, you will often see processions representing the Passion of Christ.

good friday easter celebrations in rome

On Good Friday there are two events to know about.

In 2024, Good Friday falls on March 29th.

There is a Papal Mass in St Peter's Basilica at 5:00pm which you can attend.

The main event on Good Friday takes place in the evening.

At 9:15pm, the Pope will lead the stations of the cross, or the Via Crucis, near the Colosseum.

This ritual procession commemorates the fourteen stages of Christ's passion.

At each station, the Pope reads a meditation in various languages.

The whole time there is a huge cross with burning lights in front of the Colosseum.

This can be a very moving and unique experience during the Easter celebrations in Rome, even if you are not religious.

The Via Crucis in front of the ColosseumThe via Crucis at the Colosseum on Good Friday. Photo courtesy of Repubblica.it
Yes, you can visit the Colosseum on Good Friday.

But the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill all close early in preparation for the procession.

Usually on this day, it closes by 1pm, with last entry at noon.

So on Good Friday, if you want to visit the Ancient Roman sites, your best bet is to go early when they open.

Why not take a morning tour to be sure to cover what you want to see in time?

Holy Saturday

what is Holy Saturday?

Holy Saturday, or Easter Saturday is the final day of Holy Week.

This is the day that Jesus's body was left in his tomb, and so limited services take place, with no masses, ahead of the start of the Easter vigil in the evening.

Holy Saturday easter celebrations in rome

In 2024, Holy Saturday falls on March 30th.

At 8:30 PM, the Pope will hold an Easter Vigil in Saint Peter's Basilica, ahead of the start of Easter Sunday.

During this service, adult converts to Catholicism are officially welcomed into the Church.

Easter celebrations in RomeSt Peter's Basilica in the early evening

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Easter Sunday

what is Easter Sunday?

Easter Sunday is the day that Jesus was resurrected, establishing him as the son of God.

It is a day of celebration, of rebirth and new life, marking the end of Lent.

It is also officially a public holiday in Italy so you may find that some places are closed - although a lot of businesses and offices are closed on Sundays anyway.

Easter Sunday easter celebrations in rome

In Rome, Easter Sunday is all about the Vatican, with two big events.

Easter Sunday in Rome 2024 falls on March 31st.

First, the Pope will lead Easter Mass in Saint Peter's Square.

The service begins at 10:15 AM, but if you have a ticket and plan on going, you should arrive much earlier than that.

large crowds in saint peter's square for easterEaster celebrations in Rome are a big draw. If you attend Easter Mass at the Vatican, expect large crowds.

After the mass, at noon, the Pope will then come out onto the central loggia of St Peter's Basilica, and deliver the blessing known as the Urbi et Orbi - "to the City and to the World".

He does this twice a year; at Easter and at Christmas.

You do need tickets for the mass, but not to watch the Urbi et Orbi.

pope francis delivers the urbi et orbi speechPope Francis delivering the "Urbi et Orbi" speech at Easter

Easter Mass at the Vatican - View From Above

In 2018, I was fortunate to attend Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, with Pope Francis presiding.

We had incredible seats on the colonnade above, so we got to see everything.

That's why some of the photos on this page (taken and copyrighted by me), give such a clear view.

Easter Monday

what is Easter Monday?

Easter Monday, called Pasquetta, ('little Easter'), or "Lunedì dell'angelo", which means Monday of the Angel, is a public holiday in Italy.

Banks, many shops, and some restaurants will be closed, although you will find plenty of restaurants open this day.

Many Romans see this day as a fun day, to go to a park for a picnic, barbecue or lunch with friends, to continue with the theme of celebration after Easter Sunday.

Easter Monday easter celebrations in rome

In 2024, Easter Monday falls on April 1st.

In addition to the fun of the Pasquetta, you can also attend the Easter Monday address by the Pope in Saint Peter's Square at noon.

It's free and no tickets are required - this does mean that it is a very popular event, so be prepared for crowds!

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what is pentecost?

Pentecost is the festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit to the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, fulfilling Christ's purpose to return the Holy Spirit to the world.

It is held on the seventh Sunday after Easter, and marks the end of the Easter period.

pentecost easter celebrations in rome

In 2024, Pentecost Sunday is on May 19th.

While you can attend the Pentecost Sunday Mass in St Peter's Basilica, led by Pope Francis, the main event is held at the Pantheon.

The Pantheon is still an active church, and in a special event during the Sunday Mass on Pentecost Sunday, thousands of red rose petals are showered through the oculus by Rome's firemen.

This is a unique experience - if you can get in!

There are only so many people that can fit inside the Pantheon, with priority given to locals who are members of the congregation.

The mass starts at 10:30am, so I would recommend getting in line by 8:00am at the latest to be in with a chance to be inside.

Easter celebrations in Rome - rose petals at the PantheonRose petals falling through the air at the Pantheon's special Pentecost event - simply magical!

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How to get tickets for Easter celebrations in Rome

It's free to attend all the masses at the Vatican listed above, but tickets are required.

You do not need tickets to attend the Pope's procession of the via Crucis at the Coliseum, or for the Urbi et Orbi audience.

Easter in RomeTicket required for attending Easter Mass at the Vatican

Click to visit the Prefecture of the Papal Household, where you can download the form to fill out with your request.

You just need to fax it in and wait to hear back.

You will get an answer only if you are granted tickets.

They will let you know when and where to pick them up.

Alternatively, you may send an email with your request to the Pontifical North American College. Send email to visitorsoffice@pnac.org. For more details, check out my page here.

Having a ticket to a Papal Mass does not guarantee a seat or even a place.

They operate on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you should plan to get there early.

If you have a ticket but there is no more space when you arrive, you will not be allowed in.

More Easter in Rome Information

As you can imagine, St Peter's Basilica is a hub of activity and crowds throughout Easter weekend.

It is always free to visit the basilica but during the Easter celebrations in Rome, the basilica will be closed for visits during papal masses, so always check in advance of a planned visit.

If you want to visit St. Peter's dome, you can visit it only when St. Peter's Basilica is open.

The Vatican Gardens are closed to visitors throughout Easter, reopening the day after Easter Monday.

The tomb of St. Peter, also called the Vatican Necropolis, is closed during the full period of Easter celebrations.

For lots more information about Easter in Rome, take a look at my page here!

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