papal audience dress code

How to attend a Papal Audience in the Vatican City?


Papal mass tickets are one of the most sought after tickets for the truly devout, who flock to the Vatican to get a glimpse of the pontiff. Even for those without a religious bone in their body, the experience is definitely one in which many want to partake.

This guide will give you all the best papal audience mass tips, as well as all the information you need to plan your visit and the papal audience dress code. Read on to arm yourself with all you need to know about attending a Papal Audience in the Vatican City!

What happens during the Papal audience in Rome?

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The magic begins every Wednesday mid-morning in the Vatican City when the Pope arrives at 10.30am (earlier in the hottest months at 10am to avoid the searing midday heat!)

The pontiff does a little tour in his pope mobile beforehand, stopping off to bless people who line the barricades, with a special preference for the sick, babies and the infirm.

Then the show begins, with greetings in Italian and other world languages, a short mass and then a blessing where the faithful will proffer their religious artefacts for the ultimate blessing.

The pope often gives a little shout out to visiting groups such as choirs or religious schools from other countries too.

Where does the Papal audience take place?

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Given its popularity, the Papal Audience is held in Saint Peters’ square in the warmer months. The vast square can hold up to 300,000 people, and is the place to host the large number of people who purchase papal audience tickets who hope to catch a glimpse of the pontiff.

Since Rome is blessed with magnificent weather nearly all year round, the outdoor venue is the most suitable.

In the off season and colder months the mass will be moved in to the Pope Paul VI hall, and you will need to ensure you are maintaining the Papal Audience Dress code indoors.

This hall doesn’t accommodate nearly as many people as the grand Saint Peter’s Square, and as a result you will need to ensure you have tickets and get there extremely early – at least 2 hours before – to ensure a seat at the venue.

How to get to the Papal Audience?

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There are a number of great transport options for those holding papal mass tickets – from Rome’s extensive public transport network to hop-on-hop off tour buses, there are travel options to suit every budget. For the complete low town on Papal Audience tips for transport, check out our How to Get to the Vatican page for details.

When is the best time to attend the Papal Audience?

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The usual Papal Audience tips are the same as the when to visit the Vatican tips over on our Best time to Visit the Vatican page. It’s a popular event that takes place only once a week, and as a result there is high demand for papal mass tickets.

Be careful – the Pope sometimes takes a break from the Mass schedule in the summer months, so you need to check his schedule online.

Arrive early in the morning

Once you know the schedule, your best bet is to get there SUPER early as the queues build up fast. Security is open from 8am, so get there before that and get in line!

As usual we recommend you visit Rome and the Vatican in the off-season when the crowds are less dense and the searing summer sun has abated.

November is a great month to visit the Vatican and attend a papal audience, as are the first few weeks of December before the Christmas pilgrims arrive to celebrate the Nativity.

How to get Vatican Papal Mass tickets?

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Whilst you don’t absolutely need tickets to attend the Papal Audience you may want to get one to keep it as a souvenir from your trip.

You need to book them early as the Papal Mass is one of the most popular attractions in the Vatican City. Tickets can be reserved and collected in advance, however if you didn’t reserve them never fear, you can head to the Porta Sant’Anna and request your tickets beforehand from of the Swiss Guards on the gate.

Be careful – bizarrely, even if you have a ticket you are not guaranteed entry! In fact, those without tickets who arrive earlier have a better chance of getting in than those who do. But the option I'll recommend, is to book your ticket through an expert guide that will deal with the formalities.

This is important in the winter when the mass is held indoors, so get there early to not be disappointed.

The Papal Audience Dress Code

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The Vatican City is a holy site and requires adherence to the dress code. In order not to offend, and to ensure you are not turned away at the gates, you will need to comply.

Ladies will need to have their shoulders covered and any shorts or skirts must be below the knee. Gents must not wear sleeveless shirts. The same rules apply to children as well, so be prepared with a cover-up or shawl if necessary in order to be compliant with the Papal Audience Dress Code.

What if I’m not in Rome on a Wednesday?

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Don’t worry if you are only in Rome at the weekend! You can still catch a glimpse of the pope!

Those who are in town on a Sunday will be delighted to know that the Angelus Prayer also gives visitors the chance to see the pontiff.

At midday on Sundays (and on other special religious holidays) the pope will address the crowd from his office window. He will lead the crowd in the Angelus prayer and then conduct a short blessing for all in attendance. The Angelus Schedule, like the Papal Audience Schedule, is published in advance.

For other events, check out the Popes’ schedule, which will confirm dates for Easter Mass, Christmas Day Mass and New Years’ Day Mass as well!

Additional Papal Mass Tips

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Vatican City travel tips 1. Belongings

Travel light. Security is tight and you will be going through metal detectors. Large crowds too are not an ideal place for a lot of luggage – a small zippable bag is all you need.

Vatican City travel tips 2. Summer visitors

Be prepared for heat. Water, sunscreen and caps are a must, we also think those little tins of cooling face spray are a great accessory for the Roman heat!

Vatican City travel tips 3. Tickets or no tickets?

–       Tickets – to get right in the middle in the seated portion you will need to reserve a ticket in advance

–       No tickets – don’t worry if you didn’t get tickets either – you can still access the papal audience and get a position on the side of the crowd – you may even be able to get right up to the fence if you are early and get super close to the pope!

–       Don’t pay for a ticket! If approached by a ticket tout selling you a “package” including access to the Papal audience run for the hills – the tickets are free!

Conclusion

Plan your trip now by checking out our accommodation and dining out guides, and ensure your trip to catch a Papal mass is a success by booking your tickets well in advance!

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