How to Prepare at Best for the Papal Audience

audience-pope The audience given by the pope each Wednesday falls into the ministry of His Holiness. Rain or shine, the pope each Wednesday at 10 AM performs a speech in Italian language discussing the main events in the world and sometimes announcing his next pastoral visits. The audience entails a lot of preparation in terms of moving objects and spiritual planning.


If it is winter or if Rome is having a cold spring, the audience will take place indoor in the Paul VI Audience Hall. The so called “Sala Nervi”,which bears the name of the architect who designed it, is a majestic space towered by the modern representation in bronze of the risen Christ. On the main platform, the pope speakes seated and he is flanked by a couple of Swiss Guards. The Sala Nervi can accommodate around 7,000 people and is located on the left side of the Vatican facing Saint Peter’s Basilica. If  the weather is beautiful and even before that the pope departs the Vatican for the summer residence of Castelgandolfo, the audience may take place in Saint Peter’s Square. The pope speaks seated between the square and the main entrance of the basilica and a canopy protects him from sun and wind. Saint Peter’s square is more spacious than the winter hall and can accommodate around 10,000 people.


It is a very good practice to talk preliminarly to your travel agent regarding the attendance to the papal audience, because the number of the people involved in the traveling group will trigger a positive or a negative response from the Vatican side. As travel agents have to forward their request to the Vatican Prefecture, large groups will normally have their request delayed or denied, whereas a smaller number of participants can be easily accomodated. Booking in advance your meeting with the pope is the best way to have a successful journey and a deep experience in close contact with His Holiness.


There are two types of audiences that the pope usually gives: the private audience is reserved to cardinals, ambassadors, heads of states and to groups who have a specific message or prayer for the pope. The private audience is usually celebrated in the Sala Paolina o in the Sala Clementina, both very near to the Sistine Chapel. What travel agents organize and offer in their packages and tours is the public audience, which consists of a one hour and half speech where the pope addresses his request for peace worldwide, discusses the initiatives of the country he represents to fight against hunger, and asks for humanitarian efforts for the problems in the Middle East. Therefore, what organized groups and common individuals attend is the public audience with the pope at the Vatican.


The audience usually ends at 11-11.30 AM and there are plenty of things to see within the Vatican itself. For example, as Saint Peter’s is very near to the audience hall, a visit to the largest basilica in the world is always recommended. Saint Peter’s has a tremendous amount of artworks that kept hundreds of artists working for the pontiffs for 150 years. Among the most precious pieces of art, the Pieta’ of Michelangelo is located to the right of the main entrance and is worth a visit that will leave you in awe and admiration for Michelangelo, who sculpted the Pieta’ when he was 25 years old being commissioned by the French Ambassador to the Holy See in 1498. In addition, for those interested in heights, there is the chance to take the elevator from the right side of Saint Peter’s and reach the dome of the basilica where it is possible to admire a gorgeous panorama of the Vatican and Rome.

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