For the faithful, it is a special and significant event to be standing in St. Peter’s Basilica. An especially special moment for pilgrims all over the world is to see the pope. Each Wednesday, the Holy Father greets thousands of people in the heart of St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis, the current pope, loves to greet the people. It is an electric and a holy experience.
The pope enters the throngs of people, usually on the Popemobile. He reads some Scripture and gives a homily in a multitude of languages. Lastly, he blesses all the people there, as well as their loved ones back home. He blesses religious articles at this time as well, so bring your treasures. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that can change you inside and out. It’s entirely free, and it’s entirely possible to arrange such a visit.
While it seems like a dream, it is actually very easy to obtain these tickets for the general audience with the pope. (These tickets are different than the Papal Blessing that occurs on Sundays. The Holy Father greets the crowd on Sundays from his balcony window so there is no need to get a ticket.)
The Church of Santa Susanna is the American parish in Rome. Here, American clergy work and live, and they are quite wonderful and helpful answering your questions. You can order your tickets on line directly at their website.
You can also contact your own home diocese and tell them when you will be going to the Vatican. They will mail you a letter of introduction to bring with you to the Church of Santa Susanna and they will order the tickets for you. When you arrive at the church, you present this letter to receive your tickets.
The website is extremely easy to use, but for those of you who are more comfortable speaking with a human and having an actual slip of paper to present, then call your diocesan office.
Either way, you will receive the tickets with information on what to wear and what time you need to arrive. Usually, the general audience is on Wednesdays. There are exceptions which is why the website is so helpful. You will need to be at St. Peter’s Basilica at least three hours prior to the pope.
You will go through security. Small bags will be inspected as well as your dress code will be checked. No knapsacks or large bags are allowed. Women are required to wear a skirt or dress that covered the knees. No pants. Arms must be covered as well. Men must be in trousers and shirts with sleeves. For women, a long sundress will work if you bring a pashmina to cover up with. Depending on the time of year, it can be extremely hot. You’ll want to wear sunscreen, bring water and wear a hat.
The entire service lasts about 1 1/2 hours. It is not a mass, but rather, there are some prayers and songs. It’s a time of fellowship and friendship. Don’t miss it!! You’ll be forever blessed.