The Pope is the bishop of Rome and the head of the Catholic Church, the largest Christian community in the world. Whether you are a religious person or not, getting to know the Vatican and the Holy Father is an experience not to be missed during your visit to Rome and the Vatican City.
But how to see the Pope up close? Except in the case of VIPs, authorities or others who may have the honor of greeting the Holy Father personally, most pilgrims and tourists who visit the Vatican have two options to see the Pope in person: the Sunday Angelus (no ticket required, just be at noon in St. Peter's Square) and the Wednesday Papal Audiences, for which tickets are required. Here's how to get a ticket, so stay tuned!
Secure entrance to the Papal Audience with transfer from your hotel
If during your trip to Rome you want to attend live the Audience held by the Pope at the Vatican every week but do not want to waste time waiting in line, make sure you buy your ticket online in advance.
If the Pope is in Rome, every Wednesday in St. Peter's Square there is a public Papal Audience at 9 AM. The event is not a Mass but a series of readings and chants by the Holy Father in various languages in the company of the cardinals. It ends with a prayer in Latin and with the Pope walking around the square to impart his blessing on the faithful.
The Wednesday papal audience is free, but to attend it is necessary to obtain a ticket at the Vatican and pick it up in person in Rome. As places are limited and demand is very high, it is very difficult to get a ticket and unfortunately many people are left out due to lack of space.
At 7:45 AM your guide will meet you at Via della Conciliazione #40 for a brief tour of the streets of Rome by bus accompanied by a local guide who will show you some of the most emblematic sites of the city. At the end of the itinerary you will arrive at St. Peter's Square for a quiet access to get a good seat just before the papal audience starts at 9 AM.
Why I like this option: not only is it the easiest way to secure your ticket and get a seat in St. Peter's Square at a reasonable price, but you will also get a short tour of Rome accompanied by a local guide who will explain the history of the city before you go to see the Pope.
Recommended if... you want to live an exclusive experience in the Vatican and also to visit a part of Rome with an expert guide at the best price.
Advantages of pre-booking tickets for the Papal Audience
First of all because places are limited and demand is very high. Booking your papal audience ticket in advance will ensure you access to St. Peter's Square to see the Pope up close during the Wednesday audience.
Thirdly because during this activity you will be accompanied by a local guide who will explain the history of Rome and the Vatican (you will learn many curiosities) and will take care of all the details so that you can have the best possible view and enjoy this experience at your leisure.
What will you see if you book your ticket in advance and join the tour?
During the first part of the tour, you will visit the most important attractions of Rome around the Vatican City.
- The ancient Aurelian Walls.
- The Borghese villa.
- Piazza del Popolo with its twin baroque churches and the Egyptian obelisk.
- The Tiber river.
- The castle of Sant'Angelo where the tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian is located.
Access to St. Peter's Square opens shortly before 8 AM so that people who are already waiting in line can enter calmly.
Why do I recommend this activity?
Having the opportunity to be just a few meters away from the Pope and even, with a little luck, to shake his hand and pray with him in the heart of Rome, is an unforgettable memory for every believing Christian and a highly recommended experience.
I have fond memories of that day not only because I had the opportunity to see the Pope in person during such a special celebration, but also because we had a great time during the previous tour of Rome and this was possible thanks to our guide who was always very attentive to us and helped the people in our group to get a good place during the papal audience.
I think that if we had gone to the papal audience on our own, the experience would have been more chaotic when it came to booking once in Rome because of the high demand and the shortage of seats for the event. Not to mention the long lines to get to St. Peter's Square and the difficulty in finding a good spot in the crowds.
We, thanks to the guide, were fortunately able to see it up close and take lots of pictures. Everything went great!
Frequently asked questions
What is the duration of the activity?
This entire tour lasts 3 hours. The papal audience ceremony as such lasts approximately 90 minutes.
In what languages is this activity available?
In English, Spanish and French.
Is there a dress code to see the Pope?
That's right, access to certain places of worship requires a dress code that strictly applies to both men and women. Garments that leave shoulders and knees uncovered are not allowed, so if you do not comply with this dress code you could risk not being allowed to enter the papal audience or the Angelus.
It is not necessary to dress in an extremely formal way but since you are going to see such a distinguished personality and maybe you will take a souvenir photo with him, I recommend that you choose an elegant look.
Is it possible to bring an object for the Pope to bless?
Yes, it is possible. I advise you to choose a small object such as a rosary, a crucifix or a holy card. For security reasons it is better not to carry large objects, bags or backpacks.
Is this activity accessible for people in wheelchairs?
In fact, this tour is suitable for people in wheelchairs as long as they travel with a companion who can help them get on and off the bus. The tour operator notes that wheelchairs will be stored in the luggage compartment of the bus.
Is it possible to bring strollers?
Yes, strollers are allowed on the bus, but children must be seated on their parent's lap.
What happens if it rains?
If weather conditions do not permit the Wednesday Papal Audience to be held outdoors, it is held inside St. Peter's Basilica or in the Audience Hall (Paul VI Hall or Nervi Hall) depending on the number of participants, for which they are divided into groups in order to accommodate them properly.
Is there a line to get in?
There are people who line up early in the morning but it is not necessary to be there so early, just enough time to pass the security controls and try to get a good place and that is what the guide of the activity who has everything under control takes care of.
Will we have reserved seating?
It is important to note that the tickets do not include the reservation of seats because they are occupied as people arrive at the square. The seats are not numbered. If you don't get a seat in the best positions, don't worry because the square is huge and you can stand on the sides or in the back. In fact, you can hear the act well from all locations.
How long does the event last?
The Pope makes his appearance in St. Peter's Square at 9 AM aboard the Popemobile to greet the faithful personally and the papal audience begins around 9:30 AM. The start of the ceremony can be delayed a bit because greeting the people in the front rows takes the most time, especially when it comes to the sick, children and newlyweds to whom he devotes special attention.
The Papal Audience lasts approximately 90 minutes and at the end the Holy Father returns to the square to impart his blessing to the audience before leaving.
Other options to see the Pope
The Sunday Angelus
Another great occasion to see the Pope in person occurs during the celebration of the Angelus on Sundays at noon, whenever His Holiness is in the Vatican.
Unlike the papal audiences on Wednesdays, it is not necessary to get a ticket to participate in the Angelus ceremony. It is a simple event and it is enough to go to St. Peter's Square before 12 PM to get a good seat.
In this Sunday ceremony, which lasts about 20 minutes, the Pope looks out of the window of his room in the Apostolic Palace (to the right of the façade of St. Peter's Basilica) to greet the faithful gathered in the square. He then offers a brief homily to those present, prays the Angelus with them and ends with a general blessing.
On this occasion you will see the Pope from afar, at the window of the papal apartments, but attending the Angelus in Rome and praying with the Holy Father is also a unique and unforgettable experience for any Christian.
The Pope's daily Mass at Santa Marta
Every day His Holiness celebrates Mass at his residence in Santa Marta. If for some special reason you would like to participate in this celebration in the company of the Holy Father, you can request permission from the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household by fax, filling out the form on the Prefecture's website.
However, as is logical, this type of permission is granted in a very restricted way due to the dimensions of the Pope's Chapel and the characteristics of this type of ceremony.
A private audience with the Pope
The dream of many people is to have a private audience with the Holy Father. Due to his busy schedule this is often complicated but not impossible.
If this is your case, all you have to do is write a letter to the Vatican requesting a private audience with the Pope and express the reasons why you would like to have a personal meeting with him. Who knows, you might get lucky, but it doesn't hurt to try!
If you enjoy a papal audience in Rome, you may also be interested in
After seeing the Pope in person you may want to visit the inside of St. Peter's Basilica, the seat of Christianity. You can read more about this experience here: Tickets to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
If you visit Rome you cannot miss the Vatican Museums, one of its great treasures where you can also see the spectacular Sistine Chapel. Everything you need to know you will find in the articles Where to buy tickets for the Vatican and Tickets for the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
And although it does not have the fame of the Vatican exhibition halls, the Capitoline Museums are a highly recommended visit that is not usually included in the most typical tourist circuits. If you want to know more about this museum, do not miss the article: Tickets for the Capitoline Museums.
Frequently asked questions
How long does the papal audience last?
The papal audience usually lasts between 1 hour 30 minutes and 2 hours.
What time should I arrive at the papal audience?
If you want to get a good seat at the papal audience, it is usually advisable to arrive 3 hours in advance. Keep in mind that you will have to go through a security check which could delay your entry into the Vatican, especially if you have a large crowd in front of you.
Can I bring an object to be blessed at the papal audience?
Yes, you can carry an object to be blessed, but for security reasons it is better not to carry a backpack or a large bag.