How to Attend Mass with Pope Francis

Pope Francis Attends a Mass for the Closing of Synod on Young People
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Most Catholics who visit Rome would love to have the opportunity to attend a Mass celebrated by the pope, but under normal circumstances, the opportunities for doing so are very limited. On important holy days—Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost Sunday chief among them—the Holy Father will celebrate a public Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica, or in Saint Peter's Square, if the weather allows. On those occasions, anyone who arrives early enough can attend; but outside such public Masses, the opportunity to attend a Mass celebrated by the pope is very limited.

Or, at least, it used to be.

Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has been celebrating daily Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where the Holy Father has chosen to live (at least for the time being). Various employees of the Curia, the Vatican bureaucracy, reside at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, and visiting clergy often stay there. Those residents, both those more or less permanent and those temporary, have formed the congregation for Pope Francis's Masses. But there are still empty spaces in the pews.

Janet Bedin, a parishioner at Saint Anthony of Padua Church in my hometown of Rockford, Illinois, wondered whether she might fill one of those empty seats. As the Rockford Register Star reported on April 23, 2013,

Bedin sent a letter to the Vatican on April 15 asking if she could attend one of the Pope’s Masses the next week. It was a long shot, she said, but she had heard about the small morning Masses the Pope had been having for visiting priests and Vatican employees and wondered if she could get an invitation. The 15-year anniversary of her father’s death was Monday, she said, and she could think of no greater honor than to attend in his memory and that of her mother, who died in 2011.
Bedin heard nothing. Then, on Saturday, she received a call with instructions to be at the Vatican at 6:15 a.m. Monday.

The congregation on April 22 was small—only about 35 people—and after Mass, Bedin had the opportunity to meet the Holy Father face to face:

“I couldn’t sleep at all the night before,” Bedin said by telephone from Italy on Monday afternoon. “I just kept thinking of what I was going to say. . . . That was the first thing I ended up telling him. I said, ‘I didn’t sleep at all. I felt like I was 9 years old and it was Christmas Eve and I was waiting for Santa Claus.’”

The lesson is simple: Ask, and ye shall receive. Or, at least, you may. Now that Bedin's story has been published, the Vatican will undoubtedly be inundated with requests from Catholics wishing to attend Mass with Pope Francis, and it's unlikely that all of them will be able to be granted.

If you find yourself in Rome, however, it can't hurt to ask.

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ThoughtCo. "How to Attend Mass with Pope Francis." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, ThoughtCo. (2021, February 8). How to Attend Mass with Pope Francis. Retrieved from ThoughtCo. "How to Attend Mass with Pope Francis." Learn Religions. (accessed March 20, 2023).