Did you know that it’s possible for ordinary members of the public to meet Pope Francis? Just make sure you’re in Rome on a Wednesday…
What is the Papal Audience?
The Papal Audience takes place nearly every Wednesday in St Peter’s Square, at around 10am. The Pope gives a themed speech (translated in different languages) and interacts with members of the crowd, blessing babies or religious articles such as rosaries. Keep in mind that the Papal Audience is not a one-to-one meeting – you’ll be part of a crowd of hundreds or even thousands of people. However, it is possible to meet the Pope, and even if you don’t manage to talk to him, it’s still a memorable experience. The excitement of the crowd is infectious, and there are times when it feels almost like being at a concert! You’ll see people going crazy, climbing on chairs and shouting.
Getting tickets for the Papal Audience
Firstly, make sure Pope Francis will be in Rome at the same time as you. The Papal Audience takes place every Wednesday morning unless he’s out of Rome, so check the beforehand. In the past few years the Pope has not given a Papal Audience in July.
If you’re in Rome the aVatican schedulefternoon before the Papal Audience (between 3pm and 7pm), you can request tickets in person from the Swiss Guards. Just go to the big bronze door on the side of the colonnade in St Peter’s Square; if you’re standing with St Peter’s Basilica in front of you, the door is on the right hand side. You can also get the tickets from the entrance to the Vatican that’s on the left of the Basilica (there is a Swiss guard there too, you can’t miss it).
It’s also possible to request tickets in advance. If you want to attend at Easter or Christmas, you need to request tickets several months in advance. You can request tickets directly from the Vatican by fax here, or email the Pontifical North American College (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ask if they can arrange tickets on your behalf. Tickets for the Papal Audience are free.
Tips for making the most of the Papal Audience
- Get there early. Ideally as early as 7am, and certainly not later than 8am. You need to get a good seat!
- Grab an aisle seat. The best seats are on the front row or on the aisle. After the audience the Pope will come through the crowd, and being on the aisle gives you a much better chance of getting close to him.
- Bring provisions. A bottle of water and a snack will keep you going until the Pope’s arrival. It might be worth bringing an umbrella too.
Attending the audience involves an early start and hanging around, but it’s definitely worth it. There’s such a buzz, and you can chat to your neighbours while you wait. For many tourists, the Papal Audience is one of the main highlights of their trip to Rome.
Attending the Papal Audience as part of a Vatican private tour
While meeting the Pope is obviously a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the other highlights of the Vatican, such as the artistic treasures of the Vatican Museums. Roads to Rome Private Tours organises special papal audience tours, so you can combine your encounter with Pope Francis with a private Vatican tour, enjoying everything that the smallest city in the world has to offer!
Read more: All the General Audiences with Pope Francis (Vatican News)