Contributor: David Bernard
Normally I don’t consider myself very religious, but I would recommend this post to any atheist out there purely because the experience is still amazing.
Back in 2013, after Pope Francis was newly chosen to replace Pope Benedict, I found an amazing opportunity that I will never forget. On Wednesdays, the Vatican has mass service out on the square, and open to the general public. Tickets may be required, however they are completely FREE!
When I stumbled upon this opportunity, I knew it would be special seeing as the new Pope Francis had just been selected, and given the luckiness that I happened to be in Rome during my Italy trip on a Wednesday, I couldn’t pass up on the chance to see him. Like I said, I’m not usually a very religious person, however the chance to see the Pope and watch him conduct Mass is something still rather special.
Tickets are required, however as stated above they are FREE, and they can be obtained several ways. Most people can pick them up from the Swiss guards at the Vatican on the Tuesday before the Mass, as long as you need less than 10 tickets. For those who need more tickets, or prefer to pre-book them with more advanced notice, there are other alternative methods. Personally, being American, I was supposed to reach out to the local American Catholic church affiliate out in Rome where I could put my name on a request list, and then pick them up at a scheduled time after my arrival in Rome. Although the tickets were free, it was customary to donate the church for performing the service. We left 20 Euro, or about 5 Euro each for the four tickets I requested.
On the day of Mass, it couldn’t have been sunnier or nicer weather. Many people take advantage of this and so one should be prepared for long waiting at security. There are many lanes set up, however the volume of people can be astounding so one should still be ready to wait a little bit. I recommend arriving about 30 minutes before the services are scheduled to begin. If you are running late however, that is okay, you may still continue to enter even after the services have already begun.
When you finally get through the checkpoint, don’t expect to be sitting up front. The Mass takes place in the Vatican Square and with so many people you’re more likely to find yourself walking around and hearing the service from the speakers and microphones. This certainly doesn’t make it any less special though, and I still greatly enjoyed the chance to see the (then) new Pope.
For more information on the services, or how to obtain tickets, see the following website: http://www.papalaudience.org/tickets
Have you ever been to Mass conducted by the Pope before? Comment and share your experiences below!