Getting to see the Pope in Rome can be the highlight of your trip.
First make sure he is in town when you will be here.
Visit the Vatican website, choose your language, and look at the calendar so you can check Pope Francis’ schedule. (His schedule is not announced that far in advance, max 2-3 months.)
Or, you can download the free and handy Pope App (Yes! There is a Pope App!)
If you want to see Pope Francis on your visit to Rome, here’s everything you need to know:
Perhaps the easiest way to see the Pope in Rome is to attend a Papal audience. These are held (almost) every Wednesday, when Pope Francis is in Rome.
The Papal audience is not a Mass. It is an opportunity to listen to the Pope give an address in Italian, followed by prayers, a homily, and perhaps some singing.
At the end of the ceremony, the Pope will bless religious articles. So if you have any rosaries, medallions, bibles or other religious objects, bring them along.
The Papal audience is usually held outside in Saint Peter’s square. When it’s raining heavily, or very cold, the Papal audience is held inside at the Hall of Pope Paul VI (to the left of St Peters Basilica as you are facing it.)
If there are large crowds, there may be one group in the Audience Hall and one group in St. Peters Basilica.
And, in the late summer, if the pope goes to his summer residence just outside Rome at Castel Gandolfo, then it may be held there.
The Pope does not hold public masses or audiences inside the Sistine Chapel.
Papal Audiences are held on Wednesday mornings at 10:00am or 10:30am, and last from 1 - 1 ½ hours. If you want a good seat, or in fact a seat at all, I’d recommend arriving by 7am.
Tickets are required for attending the Papal audience. Click here to find out how to get them for free.
But, just because you have a ticket does not mean you will get a seat, or even get in. The later you arrive, the less chance you have of a seat, a decent view, or, sometimes, of even being allowed in if the crowds are too large.
If you want to see the Pope in Rome, and are here on a Sunday, head to Saint Peter’s Square at noon for the Angelus.
Pope Francis will appear from the window of an apartment there. He gives a short speech followed by the Angelus, ending with an Apostolic blessing. He may also greet the crowd in various languages. The blessing, including the various greetings, usually lasts a maximum of 20 minutes.
You DO NOT need tickets for the Sunday Angelus. But you should plan to get there early to get a good spot.
All Liturgical Celebrations conducted by the pope (Papal Masses) require a ticket. It's free and easy to request them.
For tickets to most Papal Masses, you may request tickets up to a few days prior to the event. Papal Massses are held fairly regularly, and may be held in various churches around Rome, not just Saint Peters.
For example, the Pope may visit one of the other Patriarchal Basilicas in Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major), San Giovanni in Laterano (Saint John in Lateran), or San Paolo Fuori le Mura (Saint Pauls Outside the Walls.)
In another example, on Ash Wednesday, the Pope usually gives mass at Santa Sabina, a beautiful ancient basilica on the Aventine Hill.
To see a schedule of upcoming Papal Masses (and also to request tickets), visit the website of the Prefecture of the Papal Household.
Of course, tickets to very popular Papal Masses, in particular for Christmas Eve and for Easter Sunday, may be difficult to come by. Everyone wants to see the Pope in Rome for these masses!
If you don’t or cannot get tickets, you may still attend. You will just be outside the church where the mass is being held, and you can watch it unfold on giant Jumbotron screens.
Both Christmas and Easter seasons offer a lot of different Papal Masses you may attend.
Following are the Papal Masses taking place over the Easter holiday season. Tickets are required for almost all events, and for midnight Mass on Easter Sunday and Palm Sunday, they will be especially difficult to come by. For specific dates, visit the page about Easter, which is updated each year.:
Following are the Papal Masses taking place over the Christmas holiday season. Tickets are required, and for midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, they will be especially difficult to come by:
For 2020, due to Covid-19 restrictions, tickets to the Christmas and New Year masses are very restricted and large gatherings in St Peter's Square are not allowed.
Twice a year, on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, the Pope gives a special blessing to the crowd called the Urbi et Orbi ("to the City and to the World.") You may also watch this speech live on Vatican TV, or listen on Vatican radio.
At noon, the Pope will come out of the from the central loggia of Saint Peter's Basilica for the blessing.
No tickets required for this.
On December 8, which is the Immacolata, or Immaculate Conception, the Pope visits Piazza Mignanelli, a plaza next to the bottom of the Spanish Steps.
The Pope goes to pay homage to Mary, whose statue is at the very top of a pillar there. (According to the Vatican website, this is called "Act of Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the occasion of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.")
His scheduled time for this visit is 4pm, so if you want to get a spot, you should get there a lot earlier than that.
On Good Friday before Easter, the Pope leads a procession of the via Crucis at the Colosseum. No ticket is required but expect large crowds.
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You must have tickets to attend the Wednesday Papal Audiences, and any Papal masses. It's easy and it's free to book these on your own. If you want to see the Pope in Rome, try to plan ahead for this.
Keep in mind that if you want to book for any popular Papal mass, such as for Easter Sunday, Christmas Eve, certain canonizations of popular figures, etc., you should consider requesting tickets at least 6 months in advance, or, try to request these tickets through your priest/church at home.
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