How to see the Pope
Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a foreign dignitary or book tickets months in advance at an exorbitant price to see the Pope. If you’re in Rome or planning on visiting the Vatican on a Wednesday, the Pope gives talks to the masses that you can easily get into.
First, make sure that the Pope is actually in the Vatican when you are. These talks happen every Wednesday, but only when the Pope isn’t visiting another country or at the Papal Villa, Castello Gandalfo. A quick internet search or look on the Vatican website should give you this information.
Though you don’t have to book months in advance, you will have to pick up tickets the day before. They can be picked up from the Swiss Guard between 3 and 6 or 7pm the day before. If you have over 10 people in your party, you will have to reserve tickets online. For more information, head over to the Vatican website here: http://www.papalaudience.org/tickets.html.
Papal audience tickets should never cost money. Never spend money on Papal audience tickets.
The Papal audience begins at 10am, but most people get there very early. My group and I arrived around 7:30 and there were already small crowds beginning to funnel into Vatican Square. Security opens at 8. Just follow the crowds as the guard redirects you to whatever gate you should be entering. Soon, you’ll be through security and into the square.
There will be two or three blocked off areas full of chairs. They’ll be opened one after the other in order to fill all the seats before moving onto the next area. Once the seats are all filled, any remaining people are welcome to stand in the remaining square area.
Any seat is a great seat, but the Pope will come around in his Pope-mobile and trace the blocked off areas. So, if you want to be closest to the Pope, try and grab a seat somewhere around the edges of either of the two blocks of chairs. Front, back, left, or right.
The Pope makes an effort to bless the children he sees and they’re passed from their parents to the guards to the Pope. So, if you have young children and are willing to pass them up to the Pope, try to be along the edges so you can pass them to the guards.
After the audience starts and the Pope finishes coming around, he’ll speak in Latin and go through several prayers. Most of the prayers will be repeated in various languages. Groups from various areas will be announced if they’re on pilgrimage to the Vatican.
You won’t be allowed to use the bathroom once the the audience starts. But, before and after, the guards are very friendly and often speak English, so you can just ask and they’ll point you in the right direction. Technically, the bathrooms are right outside security, but they’ll often let you back in.
After the mass, most people clear the area to either leave the Vatican or head into the museums. I’d recommend hanging out for a little bit, talking with your group, before making a move to leave. It’ll make it all so much easier.
Don’t see the rest of the Vatican on a Wednesday. It’s possible and of course the Vatican will always be crowded, but it’s usually better to go on another weekday because of the number of people who will hang around after the audience.
Seeing the Pope is an unforgettable experience, it’s truly an amazing event. Even without being able to understand his message until googling a translation, it was a memory I’ll always treasure and was the highlight of my Rome trip. Living in London, it’s a cheap flight to Rome, so I had gone just to see the Pope speak.
Check out my other articles on seeing Rome here: https://www.theamericaninlondon.com/blog/how-to-see-rome-in-one-day. Have you guys ever seen the Pope speak or have you ever been to the Vatican? Let me know below!