November 25, 2012. (Romereports.com) It happens once every week. Thousands of people make their way to the Vatican to hear the Pope speak during Wednesday's general audience. That much is pretty well known, but here are a few things that may surprise many.
The first thing is the location. If the weather is nice, the general audience will take place out in the open, in St. Peter's Square. But if it's raining or cold, it's usually held at the Paul VI Hall, inside the Vatican.
“Everybody here was very accommodating. There was no rushing, no pushing. Everyone is very kind.”
The Pope gives the main catechesis in Italian, followed by a summary or greeting in at least eight languages.
It starts off with Italian: “Cari fratelli e sorelle”
Then French: “Chers frères et sœurs”
English: “Dear Brothers and Sisters”
The Pope's native German: Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!
Spanish: “Queridos hermanos y hermanas”
Portuguese: Queridos irmãos e irmãs
Polish: Witam przybyłych na audiencję Polaków
and most recently, Arabic: لِيُبَارِك الرَّبُّ جَمِي
“I thought it was awesome. It was a lot more than I expected. I didn't expect him to speak so many languages. I thought that was really cool.”
Usually about eight to 10,000 people attend the general audience. To stand out, they bring their respective flags, signs or even come prepared to greet or even sing to the Pope.
“He was very genuine. For people who would come out and give him personal greetings or yell out greetings, he would stop and acknowledge that, which was very nice.”
But of course, before any of this can happen, one must first get tickets for the general audience. The Prefecture of the Papal Household
receives written requests that are sent over by fax or regular mail.
The request should be submitted about ten days in advance and should include the date of the general audience, the number of tickets needed, mailing address, telephone number and the name of the people or group attending. But depending on one's country, there are other outlets ready to help out. For example, the Pontifical North American College
in Rome, receives requests from their fellow Americans, made directly through e mail.
“We ordered them online and then we went to this Church and picked them up yesterday. They suggested we be here like two and a half or three hours early, so that we could get into the building and so we did that and it all worked out pretty well.”
All tickets are completely free. For last minute tickets, one can check the Vatican's so called 'Portone di Bronzo,' or Bronze Gate, which is on the right hand side of St. Peter's Square.
If no more tickets are available, there's also the option of attending the Pope's Sunday Angelus at noon in St. Peter's Square, where tickets are not needed.