How To Get An Audience With The Pope
How I Got To Meet The Pope and How You Can See Him Too!
When the Pope is in residence at The Vatican, he holds an audience every Wednesday morning in either a large modern auditorium or in St. Peter's Square itself. This affords pilgrims, large groups, and tourists the chance to see and hear the Pope. Many faithful Catholics and others wait their whole lives just to get a glimpse of the Pope. Not only can you see the Pope up close and personal, but you can hear him address the audience with welcoming words and blessings.
In this lens, I share my Audience with the Pope photos and experiences along with tips on how you can get tickets to see the Pope as well.
NOTE - The Vatican has a strict dress code. Wear appropriate apparel for women and men. For example, no shorts or tank tops allowed and women's shoulders must be covered. Adhere to these rules or risk not being let in for your audience with the Pope!
Get A FREE Golden Ticket (or Green in this case)!
As you can imagine, tickets for the Papal Audience are hard to come by and you must apply well in advance of your arrival. If you are going in the summer months, plan on requesting tickets at least 2 months in advance and preferably longer if possible.
The Prefecture of the Papal Household coordinates the general and official audiences granted by Pope Benedict XVI. Therefore, you must apply in writing to the Papal Prefecture either by writing or faxing:
Prefecture of the Papal Household
00120 Vatican City State
Fax: +39 06 6988 5863
In your written request, be sure to include:
Date of the General audience you are requesting to be a part of
Number of tickets required
Name / Group
Telephone and Fax numbers
My husband and I applied via fax in July for a date in September, we received a faxed letter a few weeks later from the Papal Prefecture indicating that our request was granted. It gave detailed instructions on when and where to pick-up our tickets once we arrived in Rome. Following the instructions, we went to the Bronze Door (Swiss Guards at entrance) on the right hand side of the Bernini colonnade to pick up the tickets. NOTE - it is not handicapped accessible so your helper would need to go up the stairs to retrieve the tickets. With our green tickets in hand, we were off to see the Pope.
Building Where Audiences With The Pope Are Held
Behind the left hand colonnade (if you are facing the front facade of St. Peter's Basilica), you'll find the modern auditorium where the general audiences with the Pope are conducted. The great thing about this building is that the acoustics are fantastic AND it is air-conditioned. If you are there in summer, you'll be thankful for the reprieve from the heat. In the past, some audiences were held in St. Peter's Square (see the video below).
Above are a photo of the building that my husband took when he climbed the dome of the Basilica. Below it is a photo from a professional photographer tasked with taking photos of our audience. You can see the auditorium is pretty large and it was packed! I estimate that it holds about 5,000 people.
Outdoor Audience With The Pope Video
Arrive Early To Get A Good Seat!
With all the international large groups, excited tourists, and faithful pilgrims, the auditorium fills up meaning the best places are occupied early. ARRIVE EARLY!! I'll say it again, get out of bed early and head straight to the auditorium. Even though the Pope doesn't enter until around 10:30 AM, you should get there at least a few hours in advance because security is very tight and a good seat makes the experience all that much better. Don't show up at 10 AM and expect to get a seat....you may end up in standing room only at the back of the auditorium.
Well I have to say that this was the one time in my life when being disabled actually paid off :) I have a nervous system condition that prevents me from standing for more than a few minutes. People in power scooters and wheel chairs get special front row, handicapped accessible seating so we were truly right in front of the Pope. It was amazing!
The Pope's Entrance & What Happens
We grabbed our seats and waited for the Pope to arrive with all the other people. The excitement in the auditorium was palpable. And when that left door opened and the Pope walked out, it was like he was a rock star. The entire place erupted with cheering and crying as he made his way across the stage to his chair. Once he reached the chair, he reached his arms out to the audience.
Catholic pilgrims and groups of nuns from all over the world attended our audience. Brazil, Nigeria, Australia and many more were represented. During the audience, a Cardinal or priest that spoke the native language recognized all the groups that spoke that same language listing what parish and country they were from. Many groups had prepared a song for the pope and others had cheers, but it was fascinating to see what the next group would do. There was a whole lot of crying going on too. You can see the photo below of our U.S. representative who was a young priest from Michigan. We actually got to speak to him and he was so gracious.
The Pope himself spoke a bit before all the Cardinals recognized the groups, but then he gave a much longer "speech" at the end where he said prayers in several languages.
The audience lasted about 2 hours (not including the arriving early part) so we headed out for lunch after we got to MEET THE POPE!!
Photos from Our Audience With Pope Benedict XVIClick thumbnail to view full-size
My Husband and I Meet The Pope - The ONLY time being disabled has come in handy!
OK so my husband and I are escorted by an usher to our seats after we arrive at the auditorium and we are so excited to see that we have front row seats. Honestly, we didn't think it could get much better. Then about 10 minutes before the Pope came out on stage, one of the head ushers came by and told us to stick around after the audience concluded so that we could go up on stage. We were thinking OK - that sounds great, we'll get to see the audience and view of the entire building.
NOOOOO - he meant that he would be taking all of the disabled folks on stage to MEET the pope. When the usher came down after the audience had concluded to get the group of disabled people and rolled us up on stage while the Pope was handing out Papal Blessings to some Italian wedding couples holding hands (in their full tuxes and gowns), I was wondering what the heck was going on. Then, the disabled people in their wheelchairs were led one by one past the Pope's chair. Yep - that's right people. My husband and I got to meet Pope Benedict XVI. To this day, I can't really explain how surreal that moment is and was. Now that is one for the bucket list :)