Please note that during the transition between Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation and the election of a new pope, the schedule for Papal Audiences is very different. Pope Benedict XVI’s final Papal Audience will be a public one in St. Peter’s Square on February 27th at 10am, after which there will be no Papal Audiences until at least March 20 (if not later).
Located within the city of Rome is a separate city state, the Vatican. The head of this state is the Pope. Many people make the pilgrimage to the Vatican every year – as they have done for centuries – to see the Pope. Here are the best ways to do this:
The Pope holds a General Audience with the public on Wednesdays at 10.30am. This is held in St Peter’s Square except in winter when it is in Paul VI Hall, just to the left of St Peter’s Square. They are free but you must have a ticket which you’ll need to organize in advance. In the days leading up to a Wednesday audience you can obtain tickets from the Swiss Guard by going to the Bronze Doors of the Apostolic Palace. For large groups or to book further in advance contact: Santa Susanna Church, the American Catholic Church in Rome.
Sunday at noon is when the Pope prays the Angelus standing at the second window from the right in the Apostolic Palace. He also gives the crowd a blessing. You do not need tickets for this and it is free to attend but it does get crowded. During summer (July and August), the Pope is often not at the Vatican so check beforehand whether he is in residence to give the blessing or not.
If the Pope is at his summer residence in Castelgandolfo he will say the prayer there. Again tickets are not required but space is much more limited than at the Vatican. Castelgandolfo is 16 miles from Rome.
The Pope says special masses during Christmas and Easter each year at various locations around Rome.
During Holy Week there is a Papal Mass held on Palm Sunday in St Peter’s Square. On Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday the Pope says mass in the Vatican Basilica. He also follows the Way of the Cross to the Coliseum on Palm Sunday.
Each month there is at least one Papal Mass in the Vatican Basilica. The program for 2012 can be found here.