How to see the Pope!

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How to see the Pope in Rome in 2023

Whether you’re religious or not, it’s always amazing to see a globally important figure in the flesh. Here’s how to do it.

To see the Pope in Rome, you have three options. The first option is to visit on a Sunday morning just before noon for a chance to see him for free. You can also get a papal audience ticket the Nervi auditorium, or a ticket to one of the infrequent Papal masses held in St Peter’s Square.

Here’s how to do each:

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When is the Pope at the Vatican?

The Angelus is held at St Peter’s Square most Sundays at midday. The papal audiences are held most Wednesdays at around 10.30am. Both only occur when the Pope is in Rome. You can check the Pope’s official schedule on the Vatican’s website to check times and for any cancellations.

Get Papal Audience tickets >

1) Get a ticket for a papal audience 

See the Pope up close and personal! 

There’s a papal audience held in St Peter’s Square OR the Vatican’s Nervi Auditorium, almost every Wednesday, at 10.30 am.

Tickets are officially free, but are only available by faxing (yes really!) the Vatican offices. Official info here. As you can imagine, there are hundreds of people sending faxes all the time, so the line is often busy.

There is also an email address that apparently works but is not listed on the official Vatican website, which seems to be extremely out of date. You need to fill in this form on the Vatican website, then email it to You will not receive an immediate response but with all things in Rome, patience is a virtue.

You may have to pick up your tickets from the Swiss Guards at the Bronze Door, and you may also request them from the same guys the day before, then pick them up here the next day. If you are in the auditorium (which might happen because it’s cold and rainy) then you can go into the basilica immediately afterwards.

Alternatively you can pay a few euro to get a ticket where someone has already done the faxing for you, and get a guided tour of St Peter’s Basilica thrown in. Wednesdays only:

Most audiences with the Pope are held in a 1970s auditorium that you enter by passing between the columns to the left of the square as you gaze at St Peter’s, and then pass through a security check with your ticket. It’s comfortable and there are plenty of bathrooms. His Holiness addresses the audience from in front of a vast, grotesque sculpture on the stage called “The Resurrection”. 


2) See the Pope give the Angelus by visiting St Peter’s Square on a Sunday morning

If you want to see St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday morning, you may be frustrated in your attempts – it’s usually closed before and during the weekly “Angelus” Papal address at noon. But there are also some advantages to the situation – you get to see ‘il Papa’ for free! If you arrive around 11.30 am and hang around St. Peter’s square, you will likely see the Pope appear at his window in the papal apartments to the right of the square to give his weekly address at 12. The square can get pretty crowded, but the atmosphere is usually a good-natured one. August is a good month to do this as there are fewer people in the city – but it can get hot, so bring water and something to cover your head. If you want to visit the Basilica, it opens again just after 12.30pm on Sunday, so as the Papal crowd disperses just join the end of the line. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the front, but if you’re near the front of the line, you’ll find fewer people in the Basilica than normal. And it’s free.

3) Get a ticket for a Papal Mass in St Peter’s Square

Mass is usually held in the Piazza San Pietro on special occasions. If you want to attend, you will need to book a free ticket (see instructions above) to pass through the barrier into the square. Once you’ve received confirmation, you must arrive the day before the mass and pick your tickets up from the Swiss Guards by the Bronze Gate between 9 am and 7 pm.

Once you have your ticket for mass in the the square, the ticket is for you to get into the square at the time of the audience, not the Basilica, and you will have to stand –  the seats are for VIPs and religious orders. The basilica opens after the mass.

Insider tip: if you turn up a few hours early and just stand in the squre you won’t actually need a ticket, but beware that there is limited access to bathrooms before the mass, and zero access during it.


Now make sure you don’t miss out: plan your visit in advance:

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Photo credit: AFP

Tickets in advance!

Because of ticket supply problems following the end of Covid restrictions, it is strongly advised that you buy tickets and tours in advance to visit attractions in Rome.

Buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment.