The Pope presides in the Vatican over liturgical masses throughout the year and also leads weekly general audiences and Angelus celebrations. These events take place either in St Peter’s Square, St Peter’s Basilica or the Paul VI Hall. Tickets are always free, however they do not guarantee entry as events are often oversubscribed. Here is a guide to obtaining tickets, schedules and other useful information for your Vatican visit.
At a general audience, the Pope will give a short reflection, lead prayers and blessings and welcome different groups and individual from around the world, speaking to the crowd in a number of different languages.
General audiences take place every Wednesday at 10.30am (or 10am at particularly hot times of the year) and last between 1 hour 30 mins and 2 hours. When the Pope is away on a pastoral visit or during the Italian summer holiday, general audiences do not take place. The Vatican website has an up-to-date schedule here.
General audiences normally take place in St Peter’s Square. During the winter months, they are held in the Paul VI Hall. They are also occasionally held at the Pope’s summer residence, Castel Gandolfo.
If you need fewer than 10 tickets, they can be picked up for free from Swiss Guards at the Bronze Door by the right colonnade of St Peter’s Square. These will be available the day before each audience from 3pm until 7pm in the summer and from 3pm until 6pm in the winter, and from 8am to 10.30am on the morning of the audience. These tickets are available on a first come-first served basis and are only available for that week’s audience.
If you are unable to pick up a ticket in advance, entrance to the standing areas in St Peter’s Square is usually permitted on the day of the audience.
To pre-book your tickets or if you need more than 10, fill out this form. This form must be faxed to the Vatican’s Prefecture of the Papal Household (see numbers below – the plus sign should be replaced by an international dialling code). If your application has been successful, the Vatican will respond to confirm and provide details for ticket collection. Bear in mind the Vatican fax line gets very busy, so you may need to try sending on a number of occasions.
Fax: +39 06 6988 5863
From the US & Canada: 011 39 06 6988 5863
From the UK and Europe : 0039 06 6988 5863
From Argentina: 0039 06 6988 5863
From Australia: 0011 39 06 6988 5863
For more information, go here.
When the audiences are held in St Peter’s Square, there is a seating area at the front for those with tickets. However, these are limited in number and available on a first come-first served basis. It is advisable to arrive when the doors open at 8am for your best chance of finding a seat.
There is standing room in the rest of the square for those unable to find a seat and for those without tickets. However, once the square is full access will be denied to all, including ticket holders.
When the audiences are held in the Pope Paul VI Hall, space is at a premium. The capacity is only 6,300, so even those with tickets can be turned away once the hall is full. Seats are only available on a first come-first served basis and it is advisable to arrive when the doors open at 8am for your best chance of finding a seat.
For information on how to get to Castel Gandolfo for the occasional general audiences there, go here.
The other opportunity to see the Pope (when he is in Rome) is on Sundays at noon. He will appear from the window of his apartment, overlooking St Peter’s Square, where he will give a short reflection recite the Angelus prayer and offer the Apostolic Blessing. The Pontiff may also greet the crowds in various languages. The event usually lasts around 15 minutes.
Throughout the year the Pope presides over numerous Masses and other liturgical celebrations in St Peter Basilica. Many of these events are ticketed. Masses that are expected to attract huge numbers are held in St Peter’s Square.
For ticketed events, and if you need between 1 and 6 tickets, these can be obtained from 3 days prior to the events from Swiss Guards at the Bronze Door by the right colonnade of St Peter’s Square from 8am to 8pm (7pm in winter). For larger groups, tickets must be reserved in advance by faxing the Prefecture of the Papal Household – see above for instructions.
For information about the Mass schedule, go here.
Papal Audiences: Casual but modest dress is acceptable. Women should have shoulders covered, particularly for indoor audiences.
St Peter’s Basilica: For Mass and other events in the basilica, women can wear trousers, skirts and dresses but they must not be shorter than knee length and shoulders must be covered. In very hot weather, a shawl or scarf can be used to cover the shoulder. Men must wear long trousers. Short sleeve T-shirts and shirts are acceptable but vest tops are not. Jeans are allowed but shorts are not (Shorts are sometimes permitted when the weather is very hot, but check before visiting). Hats must be removed before entering the basilica.
For more information, go here.
During the summer months Rome can get extremely hot, so it is advisable to bring water, hats and sunscreen. Allow extra time to pass through security checks. Pocket knives, corkscrews, scissors and other similar items will not be allowed through.
Easter Masses and Christmas Eve Masses are celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica. Tickets are in high demand so applying for tickets between two and six months in advance is advisable. Applications must be faxed to the Vatican’s Prefecture of the Papal Household (download application for here and see information above). The Vatican advises that the smaller the number of tickets you are applying for, the more likely your application is to be successful.
The granting of tickets is a two-stage process – the Vatican writes to applicants instructing them to take the letter to the Prefecture office four to five days prior to the event. Once there, applicants will either receive their allocation of tickets or a letter to say there was not enough availability.
If you apply for more than 10 tickets, it is recommended that you include a letter from a parish official or another Church authority.
For more information, go here.
For our guide to visiting the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums, go here.
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