Treasure hunt: Tracking down tickets to a papal Mass, general audience

VATICAN CITY — For people who have a visit to Rome on their itinerary, it may come in handy knowing how to get tickets to a papal Mass and how to attend the pope’s Wednesday general audience.

Pope greets crowd as he arrives to lead general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Tickets to these events are free, but mandatory, so here are some ways to track them down:


Sister Maria Howell at the Bishops’ Office for U.S. Visitors in Rome talks with visitors after giving them tickets for the Vatican’s Christmas Eve Mass in this photo from 2009. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).

1. The U.S. Bishops’ Office for United States Visitors to the Vatican offers efficient and friendly service for securing tickets to most papal events.

The tickets should be requested at least 10 days in advance of the Wednesday general audience or the Mass the visitor would like to attend.

Send ticket requests by e-mail to or by fax to (39-06) 679-1448. The office telephone number is: (39-06) 6900-1821

The office is located near the Trevi Fountain on Via dell’Umilta 30. Tickets for the Wednesday audiences are distributed at the office Tuesday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The office will advise visitors about the pickup date for tickets to papal Masses.

Pope Francis' coat of arms seen before Mass at Vatican

Pope Francis’ coat of arms is seen on a banner. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

2. Write directly to the Vatican for tickets by using this pdf form. Send the filled-out form by fax to (39-06) 6988-5863 or put it in an envelope for the Pontifical Household, Vatican City State 00120, Europe.

After the request is made, the tickets can be picked up the afternoon before the audience between 8 a.m. and about 6 p.m. or on the morning of the audience from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Bronze Doors under the colonnade in St. Peter’s Square.

Click here to see where to find the Bronze Doors.


Pope Benedict XVI walking down the steps outside the bronze doors of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican in 2007. (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

3. If you are already in Rome and haven’t sent in a request, you may be able get a small number of tickets (max. 9) directly from the Swiss Guards at the Bronze Doors starting from three days before the Mass or general audience. Hours are from 8 a.m. to about 6 p.m.

Be warned that these tickets can run out and you will need a reservation if you need more than 10 tickets or you want to attend the very popular Christmas or Easter Mass.

No money-back guarantees: Unfortunately, having a ticket does not guarantee you get a seat or access to St. Peter’s Basilica or the Paul VI hall when they become full to capacity. Events held in St. Peter’s Square can accommodate about 80,000 people and you can stand in the outer edges of the square without a ticket.

Earlier the better: Because attendance has mushroomed since Pope Francis’ election, getting there 1-3 hours in advance is advisable, especially when the audience moves into the smaller Paul VI hall in the winter months.

No tickets are required to go to the Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square at noon.

Pope greets baby as he arrives to lead general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets a baby as he arrives for his general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Best place to be for a glimpse of the pope? Get situated anywhere near one of the large white wooden barricades if you want a chance to see the pope up close as he passes by in the popemobile.

If you bring your small children in the hopes of a papal kiss, be sure to have them wear hats and sunscreen to protect them from the harsh sunlight that beats down on the the square.

Dress code: Visitors should remember that there is a strictly enforced dress code for entering St. Peter’s Basilica — shoulders must be covered, even if with just a shawl, and shorts are not allowed. Women’s pants, skirts or dress must reach the knees. The rules are relaxed for a general audience outdoors in St. Peter’s Square.

For more info: on papal blessings, buying papal photos and visits to St. Peter’s tomb, check out our the CNS Pilgrim’s Page; look here for more on papal events, tips and Vatican tours; and here for the official schedule of papal Masses for 2013.

Here’s an amateur video we put together two years ago showing how to get tickets, too:

iPray! Smart phone applications for the tech-savvy Catholic

By Caroline Hroncich

VATICAN CITY — Looking for apps to help enhance your faith? What apps are out there for the tech-savvy Catholic?

If you simply type “Prayer” into the Apple Application store, you will immediately be bombarded by around 2,000 results. So to save you spending hours searching through pages of applications, I have compiled a list of some of the most reliable faith applications.

The Pope App The Pope App

Sponsored by the Vatican, The Pope App is essentially an all-access pass to Pope Francis. Users can choose to live stream papal events via The Pope App and they also have access to a calendar containing the dates of future events. One of the The Pope App’s unique features is the webcam option which allows users to stream live feeds from places like St. Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica. This application is available for iPhone and Android.

Missio Missio

The Missio application, officially launched by Pope Francis himself, is a great way to stay up-to-date on Vatican news and evangelization. It is available for iPhone and Android and allows users to access global Catholic news. Missio also includes the latest Catholic News Service videos!

iBreviary iBreviary

iBreviary is an application that gives users access to a the Breviary prayer book. It offers daily readings, prayers of the daily Mass and other prayers in English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, French, Latin and Romanian. iBreviary is available for iPhone and Android.

iMissal iMissal

iMissal is available for iPhone, Android, Windows’ Phone, Blackberry and Kindle. This application allows users to receive complete missals, prayers, and biblical verses directly to their phone. There is also a Saint-a-Day add-on available for purchase on iMissal which allows users to learn about the lives of different saints.

Confession: A Roman Catholic App Confession

The Confession Application is available for iPhone, and Android, and is designed to help users prepare for the Sacrament of Confession. It is easy to personalize and provides a step-by-step guide for users. The Confession Application also has a section for personal reflection and is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

My Year of Faith Application My year of faith

The My Year of Faith App is available for iPhone and Android and was created in direct response to the Vatican’s Year of Faith initiative. This application provides users with suggested readings, daily challenges and an interactive calendar. My Year of Faith also connects users to other forms of social media by allowing them to tweet or Facebook post directly from the application.

Editor’s note: Caroline Hroncich is a student at Villanova University and is interning at Catholic News Service’s Rome bureau for the semester.

A tale of two interviews


Pope Francis in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 4. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — The publication of Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari’s interview with Pope Francis last week raised an international stir, comparable to that previously excited by the pope’s interview with his Jesuit confrere, Father Antonio Spadaro. Both articles showed the pope speaking in characteristically frank style about matters of heaven and earth.

But it turns out there is an important difference between the two texts that readers should bear in mind when quoting or interpreting words attributed to the pope.

The earlier interview, published in America magazine and several other Jesuit publications, was “carefully reviewed in detail,” so the “particular statements in it are absolutely trustworthy,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told CNS.

The Scalfari interview is another matter. Doubts about its accuracy were raised and confirmed last week with regard to an oft-quoted passage in which Pope Francis supposedly described his state of mind immediately following his election in March, including a moment when he considered turning down the papacy. It turns out that moment must have occurred after he had already formally accepted his election.

That particular passage of Scalfari’s article is a “reconstruction and not a transcript” of the pope’s words, Father Lombardi said, declining to say whether other portions were based on notes or a recording. He added that the article, which has been reprinted in the Vatican newspaper, “should be considered faithful on the whole to the mind of the pope, but not necessarily in its particular words and the accuracy of its details.”

A home for a cat on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi

Francisco visits the statue of St. Francis of Assisi with Capuchin Father Moises Villalta. (Photo courtesy Capuchin Friars)

Francisco visits the statue of St. Francis of Assisi with Capuchin Father Moises Villalta. (Photo courtesy Capuchin Friars)

For one lucky cat in Washington, the feast of St. Francis is more than a day to receive a few sprinkles of holy water. It’s the anniversary of the day when he found a permanent home.

Francisco, named after St. Francis of Assisi, was an abandoned newborn kitten living in the front yard of a convent of Capuchin Poor Clare sisters in Wilmington, Del. The sisters couldn’t keep the kitten because they already had two dogs that weren’t willing to share space with a cat. The cat bounced around from home to home for a few months but couldn’t find permanent housing.

The Poor Clares had heard that their spiritual brothers in Washington, the Capuchin Franciscan Friars from the Province of St. Augustine, had a mouse problem, and they offered a very Franciscan solution. After convening a chapter, a meeting of brothers, on the pros and cons of having a cat, the brothers voted to welcome Francisco as the house cat at their friary, next to the Shrine of the Sacred Heart.

Francisco, who took the name of St. Francis, but in Spanish, arrived at the friary on Oct. 3, 2011, the eve of the feast of St. Francis.

The friars say they haven’t seen a mouse since then and the cat has come to be a well-known fixture in the parish.

Assisi: what the pope would have said


The Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) (Nov. 2007)

VATICAN CITY — We all know how the pope likes to set aside his prepared text and speak heart-to-heart to his audience. It looks like he will be doing a bit of the same during his Oct. 4 trip to Assisi.

While the things he says off-the-cuff will grab the headlines, probably not much  coverage will be given to what he had prepared on paper to say.

The Vatican says the pope’s prepared texts are still valid and can be published as if they had been delivered, so we’ll update this blog throughout the day with “What the pope would have said” with some excerpts from his written speeches. Continue reading

Assisi schedule & more

St. Francis of Assisi from detail of Cimabue fresco

St. Francis of Assisi is depicted in this fresco by Giovanni Cimabue between 1278-80, in the Basilica of St. Francis Basilica in Assisi, Italy. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

VATICAN CITY — On the feast of St. Francis of Assisi tomorrow, Pope Francis will be visiting the birthplace of his namesake and following in the saint’s footsteps.

For those who want to follow the all-day event Oct. 4 online, the papal schedule is below. The official liturgical booklet hasn’t been posted yet, but if it is, we’ll have it for you here.

And don’t forget that the Franciscans in Assisi have a live cam on the saint’s tomb and an email address to send your prayer requests to the friars there

Here is a general rundown of the pope’s rather packed itinerary:

7 a.m. (Rome time; 1 a.m. EDT) — Pope leaves the Vatican by helicopter.

7:45 a.m. — He lands in Assisi.

8 a.m. — Pope Francis meets with young people with severe disabilities at their church-run residence, “Serafico Institute.” He will deliver a short address. Continue reading

Adopting priceless art is now ‘a click’ away


A skylight is seen above the spiral staircase at the exit of the Vatican Museums in this 2010 file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican Museums have just made donating to their art conservation efforts a lot easier.

People now can donate online and you don’t have to be a member of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums to take part in helping preserve and restore the museums’ priceless collections.

With the launch of their new website yesterday, the patrons’ office also opened an online fundraising account on, giving people worldwide the opportunity to contribute to an already earmarked project or start a new campaign for a different project.

About a dozen projects are “up for adoption” and listed in the patrons’ 2014 Wishbook. Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 730 other followers