To attend the Pope’s weekly public audience, you, of course, have to be in Rome.
The Swiss guard provides tickets the day before for a limited period. There also are agencies who will charge you a fee to pick up the free tickets and maybe even provide pointers on when to come and where to stand.
On Wednesday, besides tourists, there were “pilgrims” from around the world. From the US alone, there were dozens of parishes with groups.
When we first learned about the audience, we asked our landlord in Cetona if we could drop one day, so we could arrive earlier in Rome. Because of her love for Pope Francis, she agreed to refund our money in full. We then added a day in Rome.
As far as the tickets, we got them from Santa Susanna Church, which provides assistance, largely to Americans needing Vatican tours, etc. It is located near the Central Termini rail station in Rome. Greg went there from the rail station and found about 40 others waiting in line to get tickets, and a priest from Seattle showed up early and quickly dispensed the tickets and some advice on how early to show up.
The audience, which began early, was scheduled for 10 a.m. We walked about 50 minutes from our apartment to arrive about 7 a.m. and found a small crowd, and the gates to St. Peter’s Square locked. Entry was allowed before 8 p.m. and we quickly and successfully headed to the second row. Shortly after we arrived, we noticed some Cardinals begin arriving. It truly was amazing to see all the police security, and all of the other activity preparing for what is a weekly event.
We got lucky when some people in front of us realized they had some special status, and they were allowed entry to an area where the Pope would bless handicapped people. This put us in the front row for an audience with the Pope, which lately has been the hottest ticket in the world.