VATICAN CITY — Catholic couples who have celebrated their marriage vows recently can request special tickets to a VIP section at the Wednesday general audience and get the chance to greet the pope, receive his blessing and be given a unique rosary for newlyweds.
The personal papal meeting for newlyweds has been handled differently over time.
For a few years, couples were stuck behind the same waist-high barricades as other VIP guests. That usually meant a mad crush for a papal handshake, and what should have been the moment for a perfect picture sometimes became a tangle of jutting arms, skewed veils and mussed hairdos.
Pope Francis has gone back to having newlyweds come up two-by-two to get a personal greeting and blessing after he delivers his catechesis.
Here’s a rundown of what a newlywed Catholic couple needs to do to receive special “sposi novelli” tickets:
- The couple must have been married in a Catholic church within two months of the audience they want to attend.
- They need to send a request for newlywed tickets and seating to email@example.com.
- The request needs to include the name of the church where the wedding took place; the date of the wedding; the name of the priest who married them; and the full name of the bride and groom.
- The couple must bring with them to Rome a copy of their certificate of sacramental marriage signed by their priest. This will be needed to get a special rosary for newlyweds that was blessed by the pope.
- The requested tickets and detailed instructions about the Wednesday audience will be given out at the U.S. Bishops’ Office for United States Visitors to the Vatican — located near the Trevi Fountain on Via dell’Umilta 30. Audience tickets are distributed at the office Tuesday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- They can wear their wedding attire to the audience although women are encouraged to wear a shawl if their dress doesn’t cover their shoulders.
- A papal photographer will be taking pictures during the meet-and-greet and those pictures will be available for sale later through L’Osservatore Romano’s photo service www.photovat.com
For more information about getting tickets to the pope’s general audience or papal liturgies and events, head to this post from last month: “Treasure hunt: Tracking down tickets to a papal Mass, general audience.”