Learn About the Papal Audience and How to Attend

Have you ever wanted to see the Pope in real life? The Papal Audience is a great opportunity to do so. Every Wednesday at St. Peter's Square, the Pope greets and addresses pilgrims from all over the world. It takes place at the Vatican and is open to all. Learn all there is to know about the Papal Audience, its significance, and how you can be a part of it.

Papal Audience | Quick Facts

Papal Audience
  • Also Known As: The General Audience
  • Location: St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
  • Established: As early as 1939 
  • Number of Visitors Per Year: 3 million

What is the Papal Audience?

Papal Audience

The Papal Audience, also known as the General Audience, is a weekly event that takes place on Wednesday mornings, where the Pope greets and addresses a gathering of Christian pilgrims, devotees, and inspired visitors around St. Peter’s Square. 

The Pope makes a reading and delivers a short sermon followed by the final prayer and a bestowal of Papal blessings. These are delivered in Italian, though, short summaries are provided in English, French, German, and other languages depending on the group visiting. The General Audience was started as early as 1939 by Pope Pius XII with the intention of praying for newly married couples. It ceased temporarily during World War II. In 1963, Pope Paul VI resumed the General Audience and reincorporated it to include all the faithful, while speaking on themes each week such as hope, faith, and charity. The Papal Audience is seen as a way for the Pope to keep in personal touch with his followers and strengthen their faith through his messages. 

How do I get Papal Audience tickets?

Visitors from all over are encouraged to attend the weekly Wednesday Papal Audiences by accessing tickets for the event. Tickets are free of charge and are a must if you want to attend. One can access tickets for the Papal Audience in several ways:

Fax: In order to get tickets you will need to download and fill out a form from the Prefecture of the Papal Household and have it faxed to the Vatican. Once tickets are confirmed, you may collect them at the Bronze Door a day prior to the audience between 3 PM and 7 PM or between 7 AM and 10 AM on the morning of the audience.

Email: You may also choose to email visitorsoffice@pnac.org with your request for tickets to the Pontifical North American College. Upon confirmation, you will be able to pick them up at the Trevi Fountain between 3 AM and 7 AM. 

Swiss Guards: Three days prior to the audience, you have the option of picking up tickets directly from the Swiss Guards at the Bronze Door. However, the Swiss Guards have only a limited number of tickets on hand, therefore it is advisable to book tickets in advance.

Third-Party Vendors: You may also try third-party agencies like Headout to secure tickets. Through Headout, you can access Papal Audience tickets that come with guided tours, and a viewing of the Vatican Gardens and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Plan Your Visit to Papal Audience

What's the Papal Audience Schedule?
Where is the Papal Audience Held?
Dress Code
Rules & Regulations
Papal Audience

The General Audience with the Pope happens every Wednesday and usually begins at 9 AM. Security usually allows visitors in by 7:30 AM. The Pope’s official schedule is made known days ahead of the event which can be checked on the Vatican website. You may also refer to this Papal Audience calendar for dates when the event is held. 

Closed: There are times when the Pope is overseas or is engaged in some work in which case the Papal Audience will not be held for that week.

Papal Audience

The Papal audience is held in the spacious St. Peter’s Square close to St. Peter’s Basilica. During the Winter and the rainy season, if weather conditions are unfavorable, the Papal audience is held at the Hall of The Pontifical Audiences, also called the Papal Hall, which can accommodate over 6000 visitors. 

During the Italian holiday period in August, the Pope may reside in his summer residence - Castel Gandolfo, in which case the gathering will be held at Castel Gandolfo.

Papal Audience

A casual dress code is followed during a Papal Audience since it happens outdoors. Being modestly dressed is still strongly advised. Shorts or dresses exposing the knees, tank tops, sleeveless shirts, and baseball caps inside the churches are not allowed. Ladies are required to cover up their shoulders if the meetings are held indoors.

Due to the heat, you may also want to bring sun hats, sunscreen, and water to keep yourself cool and protected. Men are permitted to wear hats throughout the Audience.

Papal Audience

Staff at the Papal Audience prioritize seating for wheelchair users. Wheelchair users are invited to sit in a premium seating location to the right of the Pope’s speaking platform and may even get a chance to interact with the Pope after the event has concluded.

Papal Audience

Photography is allowed at the Papal Audience. Upon his arrival, as the Pope ascends the speaking platform, you are allowed to greet the Pope at the discretion of security.

The Papal Hall

The Paul VI Audience Hall, also known as the Hall of the Pontifical Audiences, is an auditorium used for addresses by the Pope when the weather outside doesn’t allow for open-air audiences like St. Peter’s Square, where the Papal Audience is usually held. The complex is located on the periphery of Vatican city, close to St. Peter’s Basilica. 

Inaugurated in 1971 and designed by Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi, the building has a unique design and is equipped with a solar roof. The double convex curvature of the hall focuses the audience's attention on the papal throne. Experiencing a General Audience in the ambiance of the Papal Hall is not to be missed.  

What to Expect During a Papal Audience?

People from all over the world visit the Vatican with the hope of seeing the Pope and listening to his words of wisdom. Experience the following while you’re there:

Papal Audience

The Pope

The Pope, also known as the Bishop of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff, is the leader of the Catholic Church. Deemed the spiritual successor of Saint Peter, the Pope is considered among Catholics to be the epitome of holiness, and seek his spiritual guidance in all matters. During the Papal Audience, the Pope is known to personally interact with the crowds, shaking hands with them and even signing autographs.

Papal Audience

St. Peter’s Square

St. Peter's Square, also known as Piazza San Pietro in Italian, is a massive open space located in Vatican City where the Papal audience is usually held. The square was built in the mid-17th century and is known for its grandeur, symmetry, and stunning Baroque architecture. It is oval in shape and measures approximately 240 meters in length and 180 meters in width, surrounded by colonnades of 284 Doric pillars symbolizing the arms of the Church.

Papal Audience

Sermon, Prayers, and Blessings

In his address to the faithful, the Pope will make a reading from the Gospels and disseminate small teachings in the form of a sermon based on the readings. The readings and the sermon will be summarized in various languages depending on the gathering. He will also say the Our Father in Latin. This is followed by the apostolic blessing which is given to the congregation, the sick, and loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Papal Audience in Vatican City

Q. What is the Papal Audience?

A. The Papal Audience is a weekly event where the Pope greets and addresses the gathering of the faithful in St. Peter’s Square.

Q. What happens during the Papal audience?

A. The address by the Pope in a Papal Audience consists of a reading, a short sermon, the final prayers, and the papal blessing. It is attended by thousands.

Q. Do I need tickets to attend the Papal Audience?

A. Yes, tickets are mandatory to attend the Papal Audience.

Q. How can I get tickets to the Papal Audience?

A. Tickets for the Papal audience can be bought online (link to MB page). Alternatively, you can secure the tickets by faxing the Vatican or by emailing the Pontifical North American College. You may also purchase them directly from the Swiss guards by the Bronze door three days prior to the event.

Q. Is there a fee to attend the Papal Audience?

A. Although tickets are required for the Papal Audience, these tickets are absolutely free.

Q. How much are Papal Audience tickets?

A. Tickets to attend the Papal Audience are always free. However, inclusions such as guided tours and access to other places of interest are chargeable.

Q. Can I cancel my Papal Audience tickets?

A. Yes, you can cancel Papal audience tickets up to 48 hours before the it begins and get a full refund.

Q. Where is Papal Audience held?

A. The Papal Audience is usually held in St. Peter’s square of the Vatican. When the weather becomes cold or rainy, the Papal Audience is held indoors within the Papal Hall.

Q. When was the Papal Hall built?

A. The construction of the Papal Hall was started in 1963 and inaugurated in 1971. It was designed by Italian engineer and architect Pier Luigi Nervi.

Q. What are Papal Audience timings?

A. The Papal Audience starts every Wednesday morning between 9 AM and 10:30 AM. You may refer to the Pope’s official schedule for any changes in timings.

Q. How long is the Papal Audience?

A. The Papal Audience takes about an hour and a half to complete but may extend to two hours.

Q. What can I do at Papal Audience?

A. At the Papal Audience, you will get a chance to see the Pope live. You can listen to his teaching and receive his blessings. You will also get a chance to see St. Peter’s square, a magnificent oval pavilion.

Q. What should I wear to the Papal Audience?

A. Casual dressing is recommended since the Papal audience is usually held outdoors. But be sure to dress modestly, covering knees and shoulders within the premises of the Vatican.

Q. Can I take photos at Papal Audience?

A. Yes, taking photos and selfies is permitted at a Papal Audience.

Q. Can I talk to the Pope in a Papal Audience?

A. During his arrival and exit, the Pope meets and greets the public under strict security measures. Unless you are part of the special groups seated near the speaking platform like disabled visitors and newlyweds, you will not get a chance to meet the Pope personally.

Q. Do I have to be a Christian to attend a Papal Audience?

A. Of course not! The pope invites visitors from all faiths to attend Papal Audiences.

Q. How can I get to the Papal Audience?

A. You can reach Vatican city using the metro, train, or bus system in Rome. However, there is no public transport inside Vatican city. The best way to reach the Papal Audience is by walking.

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