Christmas is a magical time of year by itself. If you add Italy to that mix, it becomes a fairytale. While the Eternal City offers an eternal list of festive celebrations, seeing the Pope present his Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican is at the top.
Regardless of religion, it is a special occasion that spreads unity and peace. Not to mention, you see Pope Francis deliver the most arguably watched mass in the world. All things considered, that’s a pretty rock star Christmas, am I right? Here is everything you need to know about seeing the 2017 Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican.
Christmas Eve Mass
The Christmas Eve “Midnight” Mass- AKA the “Super Bowl of Italy is on December 24th 2017 at 9:15 pm.
Where is it?
The Christmas Eve Mass is traditionally celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica. For those who didn’t get tickets, join the masses outside in St Peter’s Square for a live televised version. Arrive early for both situations as it gets crowded!
How to get tickets?
All tickets are free. I repeat, FREE. But, there is a, let’s say entertaining, process in which to obtain these hot items…
- Book in advance. The Vatican recommends booking 2-6 months ahead of time.
- Know you have a bigger chance of receiving your tickets if you reserve a smaller number. For example, a group or family of 2-6 people will have more of a shot than a group of 15 people.
- Send a fax. Find a PDF version of the form here. Fax number: +39 06 698 85863. (My fellow millennials, accept this challenge and believe anything is possible.)
- You’ll receive an old school letter from the Vatican (cool souvenir?) confirming that they received your request. This is not a confirmation of your tickets.
- When you arrive in Rome, you need to confirm you have tickets.
- Go to the Preffetura Vaticana. This is an office on the right-hand side of the Basilica, just after the unmissable “Bronze Doors”. Find the location here.
- This step should be completed 3-5 days before the mass. Hours of Preffetura Vaticana: 8am-6pm
- Get ready to celebrate!
Other Papal Ceremonies
If Christmas Eve isn’t the cards for you, fear not! There are many other opportunities to see the Pope and walk away with the experience of a lifetime.
- December 25th: Urbi et Orbi, 12pm in Saint Peter’s Square. No tickets required
- December 26th: Angelus/Papal Blessing, 12pm in Saint Peter’s Square. No tickets required.
- Papal Audience: Almost every Sunday, assuming the Pope is in town, he conducts his Papal, or General, Audience. This is not technically a mass. Instead, the Pope addresses the audience with a themed speech followed by different blessings (in various languages) and hymns. Tickets are free, but required. You can request them directly at the Swiss Guards if you’re already in Rome. However, if you’re requesting from your home country, find the PDF request form here.
- The Papal Audience starts at 10, or 10:30, and lasts about 1-1 ½ hours.
- Your ticket does not guarantee entrance to the piazza. The guards will stop admitting people to the piazza once it reaches capacity. So, if you want a seat or to be admitted, I recommend arriving by 7:30am at the latest.
- Easter Mass: April 1, 2018. The process is exactly the same as the Christmas Eve Mass, including the free tickets. However, book now! Just as with the Christmas Eve Mass, tickets are limited on a first come, first serve basis.