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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.

Pope Francis Saint Peter's SquarePope Francis goes through and greets the crowd after a Papal Audience or Papal Mass in St. Peter's Square.


Papal Audience Tickets - Everything You Need to Know

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

When do you need tickets to see Pope Francis?

Tickets are required to attend any Papal Audience or Papal Mass.

There are other times you can see Pope Francis that do not require tickets, such as during the Angelus.

Papal Mass and Papal AudienceTickets are pretty easy to request. I'll cover how to do that on this page.

How Easy is it to get Papal Audience tickets and Papal Mass tickets?

Most of the time, you will have no problem securing tickets to the Wednesday General (Papal) Audience.

As for Papal Masses, you will usually have an easy time getting those tickets, too.

However, tickets to popular Papal Masses, such as during Christmas and Easter are much harder to come by, and you should plan on requesting these as far in advance as possible (not more than a year in advance).

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.)

Pope Francis blesses a baby before he goes through the crowd after a Papal Audience.

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 many gift shops you will find throughout the Vatican and Vatican Museums.

The whole thing lasts around 1.5 hours, so you should be done by around noon.

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Papal Audience is NOT Private

The Papal Audience is not a private one-on-one audience with the Pope.

When you request Papal Audience tickets, you are asking to attend a (mostly) weekly ceremony in which thousands of other people like you will be in the audience to hear and see the Pope.

The Pope addresses the entire crowd from a stage right in front of the basilica, and afterwards, will drive through the crowd.

papal mass crowdPapal audiences and papal masses are popular, so expect there to be thousands of other people like you who want to see the Pope.

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.

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, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, Pope Francis did not hold any Papal Audiences during July, but he did in August. When the Papal Audience is in August, you do not need tickets. Just show up early for a good seat.

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. 

They ask you to include:

  • Date of the General audience or Liturgical celebration
  • Number of tickets required
  • Name / Group
  • Mailing Address
  • Telephone and Fax numbers

You will need to fax it in and wait to hear back (they will contact you via e-mail or the fax number you provide on the form).

You will get an answer only if you are granted tickets. The Prefecture of the Papal Household does not have an email address to send to (although they do send e-mails sometimes as answers to these requests).

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 to request Papal Audience Tickets, 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 Papal Audience 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 fill in the request form on the website of the American Church in Rome, Saint Patrick's. You can also email them directly. They MAY email you back with an answer and pickup instructions. But sometimes they don't, as they get so many requests. They ask that you not call them asking for confirmation, but rather that you go to their location (Via Boncompagni, 31) on the Tuesday afternoon before the audience to collect your tickets. 

Please don't double book!

Please do not try requesting Papal Audience Tickets (or Papal Mass tickets) from more than one source. This creates double bookings and will leave fewer tickets available for others.

Please be patient and if you do not receive an answer, either try to email your source again, or simply show up on the afternoon prior to the audience.


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

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 St. Peter's Basilica.

vatican bronze door swiss guardBronze door of the Swiss Guard at St Peter's 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 Papal Audience 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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CAVEAT - Asking in person may not be convenient

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 Papal Audience tickets in advance, and if possible, as far in advance as possible.

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Getting Papal Audience Tickets Through an Agency

Do you just want to get Papal Audience tickets and be done with it? No faxes, no waiting, no wondering? You can, if you book through an agency. This means paying for the tickets, which are normally free, but you do get something for your money - mostly convenience.


A friend of mine did this and loved it. She showed up at 7:30am, and with just a few other people, was escorted to a great spot right up near the front row. She was then given some info and history, and left to chat with the others in her group. She said it was all very well organized and she loved not having to do anything and for everything to just work. So this is up to you.

What time should you go to the Papal Audience?

What time should you arrive, and where should you try to sit?

The best time to get to the Papal Audience is at 7am.

What? Why so early?

If you want to get a seat, and not only that, a GOOD seat, then you should get there at 7am. You will not be alone.

The Swiss Guard start letting people in sometime around 7:30am. As soon as they say go, there will be a rush to the front rows.

My front and center view of the Pope during Papal Mass. How did I get this spot? By showing up at 7 am.

My suggestion to you is to get as close to the front as possible, but more importantly, to get a spot on the aisle's edge.

This is because the Pope will come through the crowd after the audience, and if you are right on the edge of an aisle, you will have PRIMO viewing privileges.

pope francis greets the crowdsPope Francis moves through and greets the crowds after the Papal Audience (or Papal Mass).

Read this fun and and very descriptive post by my friend Joanne (on her blog Travel Angel), who lives inside the Vatican, and attends the papal Audience often.

So what are you supposed to do all morning until the audience?

I don't know why, I don't know how, but somehow that time just flies by. 

You will chat with your neighbors. There is an excitement in the air. You can bring a snack, have a little bite while you wait.

You will start enjoying the pomp and all the buzz around you and before you know it, you will see the Pope!

Just because you have Papal Audience tickets, it does not guarantee you entry.

Once the crowd is at capacity, they will stop letting people in, even those with tickets. This is particularly true for the smaller venue inside the Paul VI audience hall.

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. 

Can you make it to the Papal Audience if you arrive in Rome that morning?

Many international flights into Rome land at about 6 or 7am. I have heard hundreds of times over the years "Can I make it to the Papal Audience if my flight lands at 6:30am?"

Consider that it takes about 2 hours from the time you land (to get off the plane, go through passport control, get your luggage, and then make your way into Rome) until you arrive at your destination in Rome.

Then you have to store your luggage and race to St. Peter's Square.

(And if you think you can just go straight to the Vatican, I suggest you rethink this plan. You cannot enter St. Peter's Square or anyplace at the Vatican with a large piece of luggage or even large backpack.)

And this is assuming your flight lands on time.

Finally, please consider what I just said above. In order to get a decent seat, you need to show up at 7 am. Sure you can come at 10 am. But you will be sitting pretty far back, or even standing.

Sorry but my answer has to be no, you are not going to make it to the Papal Audience if your flight lands in Rome that morning.

Can you visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's basilica after the Papal Audience?

You might consider combining a Papal Audience with more visits at the Vatican, like to the Vatican Museums.

While my personal preference would be to NOT visit both of these on the same day, I realize for many people, there is a time limitation, and sometimes you just have to do what you can to fit in everything you want to do.

So the answer is yes, you can visit the Vatican Museums after the Papal Audience. Just make sure to book your entry or tour for 1 pm or later.

If you want suggestions for planning all your Vatican visits, visit my page about this.

CAN YOU VISIT THE SISTINE CHAPEL DURING THE PAPAL AUDIENCE (OR MASS)

Michelangelo's ceiling inside the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is open normally during the Papal Audience.

The Sistine Chapel is inside the Vatican Museums. The Vatican Museums are open normally while the Papal Audience is happening. 

So you can visit the Vatican Museums and see the Sistine Chapel during the Papal Audience.

However, St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's dome are closed during the Papal Audience. They reopen after the Papal Audience has ended, and the Pope has left the square.

If you have Papal Audience tickets, and want to visit the Vatican Museums after the audience, make sure to book your visit or tour for after 1pm. The audience lasts around 1.5 hours, but there are logistics involved and you want to give yourself plenty of time to get from St. Peter's Square to the Museums entrance.

If you don't have Papal Audience tickets, but want to visit the Vatican Museums, you can go any time during normal hours.

But if you also want to see St. Peter's Basilica (and climb the dome), you should plan your Vatican Museums entrance time no earlier than 11 am to ensure you will get to see the basilica.

The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.

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, or outside on St. Peter's Square.

It may also be held in other basilicas in Rome. The schedule and location are on the Vatican website.

pope francis papal massPope Francis conducts mass on June 29, Rome's saint day "Santi Pietro e Paolo".

The Pope does usually not hold general Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Basilica unless it's for a specific holy day (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

vatican easter mass ticketMy ticket to attend Easter Mass at the Vatican with Pope Francis - the opportunity of a lifetime!

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 St. Patrick's church. They only handle requests for Papal Audience tickets. 

So, to repeat, you may:

Are Papal Audiences and Papal Masses handicapped/wheelchair accessible

Yes, you and your companion can attend both Papal Masses and the Papal Audience if you are in a wheelchair. You still need to get Papal Audience tickets. 

papal audience wheelchair seatingVisitors in wheelchairs and their companions will be escorted to a spot along one of the aisles, allowing for excellent viewing of the Pope during a Papal Audience or Papal Mass.

In my experience, I have seen people in wheelchairs given a spot along the aisles towards the front section of the audience, in more or less single file.

Visitors in wheelchairs will have excellent views of the Pope when he visits the crowd after a Papal Audience or Papal Mass.

By being seated in the center aisle, you will have plenty of opportunity to see the Pope after the audience or mass, as he moves through the crowd.


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