The Pope holds regular Papal General Audiences on Wednesdays at 10:00 or 10:30 AM. Tickets, which are free, are required for these audiences with the Pope and should be requested far in advance as they are very popular. There are several ways to get tickets:
- The Church of Santa Susana, home of the American Catholic Church in Rome, offers assistance in English for acquiring Papal Audience tickets (only for the Wednesday General Audience, not Papal Masses). Requests can be made up to 6 weeks in advance, and you will only get a response about 2 weeks before your requested date. You will then need to pick up your tickets at Santa Susana on Tuesday afternoon between 4:30 and 6:15. A donation for their service is appreciated.
- You can send a letter or fax requesting general audience tickets or tickets for Papal masses directly to the Prefecture of the Papal Household. You can then pick up the tickets either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning before the audience.
- If you don't want the hassle of trying to get tickets yourself, Papal Audience Tickets can be reserved through Select Italy for a booking fee. They suggest making your request at least 2 months in advance. Select Italy's service also includes transportation from your hotel to Saint Peter's Square where you will pick up your tickets before entering. Other companies may also offer bookings for a fee.
- If you show up Wednesday morning, you can sometimes get last minute tickets because of no-shows, but it's usually not very likely. Beware of scalpers claiming to sell you tickets though.
Remember, the tickets themselves are free. No tickets are required for regular Sunday masses or some of the special events but expect big crowds and arrive early.
Attending a Wednesday General Audience With the Pope
Wednesday Papal Audiences usually take place in Saint Peter's Square at 10:00 or 10:30 AM and last about 90 minutes. To enter you will have to go through security as instructed by the guards. If you want to get a good seat, you should arrive about 3 hours in advance.
If the weather is bad, audiences may be held in Saint Peter's Basilica and the Audience Hall—follow the instructions given by the guards. During summer, general audiences have been held at the Pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, in the Castelli Romani. However, Pope Francis has not been using the summer residence. Check the calendar in advance for summer audience location.
You must dress appropriately to be admitted. No shorts or tank tops and women must have their shoulders covered. You can bring objects to be blessed, but it's best not to bring a backpack or any large bags. Photography is allowed.
If you want to stay in the area, see our suggestions for places to stay near the Vatican.
Easter Week and Christmas Season Masses
Rome is one of Italy’s top destinations during Easter Week and the Christmas and New Year holiday season. Not only are there special holiday events in Rome, but going to the Vatican during the holiday season is very popular. One of the top attractions is going to a mass presided over by the Pope at Saint Peter’s Basilica. Tickets are required to attend these popular masses. The tickets are free and should be reserved well in advance by following the instructions of the Prefecture of the Papal Household.
Christmas season masses at Saint Peter’s Basilica (tickets required)
- December 24: Christmas Eve Mass
- December 31: New Year’s Eve Vespers
- January 1: New Year’s Day Mass
- January 6: Feast of the Epiphany Mass
See the Vatican website for the complete schedule of masses and general audiences.