24 Oct Tips For Attending the Papal Audience in Rome
On our first full day in Rome, we discovered that we had a chance to see the Pope.
Typically our first day is spent researching the area we are staying in and planning what we have to do.
Which means reading other blog posts, articles, and looking up the new city we are in. And that is when we found out the Pope goes public every week.
Okay, anyone and everyone knows who the Pope is, no matter what your religious beliefs are or your personal opinions on religion. Obviously, the Vatican City was on our list – but I just assumed there would be zero sightings of the Pope. Guess again.
It turns out that when the Pope is in Rome (which isn’t always the case) he holds papal audiences on Wednesday mornings. In the summer it is held outside, and in the winter it is typically held in St. Peter’s Basilica. And the Pope just so happened to be in town the same time WE were in town. Say whaaaaaat?!
Here are some tips for attending the papal audience (especially when you plan at the last minute).
- Remember – it is free to attend the papal audience. There are a lot of scams urging you to buy tickets to the papal audience in combination with the Vatican Museum – do not fall for them.
- Get a ticket. You can find more information here about obtaining tickets. Chloe and I did not get a ticket, but a lot of people want them as a memory or as confirmation to get in. We arrived early to guarantee that we would be let in without one. Even if you have a ticket, you may not be let in if the crowd is full – so don’t wait for the last minute.
- Arrive EARLY. This is for everything you want to do in general. If you dislike long lines, always arrive early. And if you like long lines – who are you?
- The Papal audience typically begins at 10:30 am. Ours started early due to the heat, which is typical on hot days. We wanted to be in the Vatican City by 8 am (we were ten minutes late, but hey) to avoid the long lines. And we still had to wait about twenty minutes for the first line – and even longer for the second line.
- Be prepared to go through two different security lines. The first one is a simple bag check, and the second is more similar to airport security.
- Stand along the wooden fence once inside the square. We were unsure if we were allowed to sit on the seats since we did not have tickets – but it appeared that if you got there early, you could essentially sit anywhere. If you are up to stand, stand along the wooden fence. Why? THE POPE PASSES RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. We were not aware of this and ended up lucking out on our spot. Don’t forget to read our other post on seeing the Pope.
- Bring any objects or anything you want blessed – the Pope does a blessing at the end for anything you want to bring back to a loved one.
- Bring your babies, because we saw the Pope lift a baby out of the crowd and bless him/her.
- And maybe wear your wedding gown and suit – all of the brides and grooms who were in attendance (which were a lot) all went to a separate area on stage to get a separate blessing.
- Pack water and sunscreen if you attend in the summer. Rome is HOT – and there is no shade (that we could see).
The Papal Audience is an amazing experience.
While the Pope always says the first blessing, it is translated into many different languages afterwards – which is why the entire experience lasts about an hour and a half.
If you are planning on attending the papal audience and touring the Vatican City at the same time, make sure to dress appropriately. Read our other post here on our other tips for visiting the Vatican City.
Not going to be in Rome (or the Vatican City) on a Wednesday morning? Never fear, for the Pope also sticks his head out of his window Sunday mornings (if he’s in town) to say a few blessings and “hello” in multiple different languages. This does not require a ticket or security to attend – you simply have to be standing under his window (don’t forget to wave). Check out this site for more information.