Visitors' Centre Domus Australia

Guest House in Rome

Visitors’ Centre

Domus Australia’s front desk operates as a Visitor Centre for guests. The Visitor Centre can help with general information about Rome, sightseeing, tours, dining and transport information. It can also assist people wishing to obtain tickets to attend the Wednesday Papal audience or other special events.

A trip to Rome is an unforgettable experience. Rome is a unique capital among the world’s great urban centres – in the ancient city of Rome, you’ll find a city within a city. The Vatican is the smallest country in the world, with its own postal system, police force, currency etc. It houses some of the greatest works of art in the world and is home to St Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church and the site of the canonisation of Mary Mackillop in 2010.

The most interesting aspect of the Vatican, however, is not any of its buildings or artworks, but rather, its leader, who lives there and guides the world’s Catholics. The papacy has been blessed with saints in the last century and blessed Pope John Paul II in particular with his apostolic visits, and vivacious personality brought new vigour to the office and a level of public accessibility unprecedented for any world leader.

Pope Francis continues this willingness to make himself available to greet the tens of thousands of visitors to the Vatican every week.*

* Please note Papal events are currently suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

How do I request tickets to Papal events?

You can check on the following website for up-to-date information about events which may be taking place during your stay.

How do I collect my tickets?

Tickets for Wednesday General Audiences are released by the Vatican on Tuesday morning (the day before the General Audience). Tickets requested through Domus Australia and our Visitors’ Centre desk at the Reception will be available for collection between 3 P.M. and 7 P.M. on Tuesdays and between 8.00 A.M. and 9.30 A.M. on Wednesdays (on Wednesdays the actual closing time is scheduled for 10.30 A.M., but we suggest to collect the tickets within an hour before, since the audience starts at 10.00 A.M.).

Tickets to Papal Masses are generally available the day before the liturgy.

Please note that we do not deliver the tickets, therefore they must be collected in person. Upon arrival to collect your tickets, our Visitors’ Centre staff will be happy to give you an introduction to the Papal event and answer any questions you may have regarding location, concerning what happens, how long it takes, etc.

What is a papal audience like?

Papal audiences are held on most Wednesday mornings at 10:30am either in St. Peter’s Square or in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall (or in August at Castel Gandolfo).

The audiences are not Masses, but are times set aside for pilgrims and visitors to listen to the Pope and receive his apostolic blessing. Audiences usually include an address (in Italian) and short, personalized greetings by the Holy Father in the languages of the pilgrims present.

This is followed by his blessing of those in attendance and of any religious articles that are brought (so bring those rosaries and holy images bought in Rome to be blessed!).

Throughout winter and during inclement weather, the audiences are held in the Paul VI Audience Hall inside the Vatican City-State. In order to enter the Vatican, you must go through security at the Petriano Entrance, just on the other side of St. Peter’s Basilica’s left colonnade see map here.

When the audience is in St. Peter’s square, you will still have to go through security first through the colonnades on either side of the square. You should allow plenty of time to pass through security.

At all times, but most particularly when the audience is in the Paul VI auditorium (since there are only 6000 seats), we strongly recommend that you plan to arrive at 8AM (2½ hours early) to secure good seating. The audiences usually last for about an hour-and-a-half.

Out of respect for the sacredness of the place, all visitors need to wear clothes that are respectful. Tops should cover the shoulders (no tank-tops) and shorts and skirts should fall above the knee).

If you are not wearing appropriate clothing, there is a risk that you may be turned away at security and not permitted entry to the event.

Special arrangements for newlyweds

At the Wednesday Papal Audience a special section closer to the Holy Father is reserved for couples who have been married in the Catholic Church within the last two months. To be seated in this section, please send us a letter, written by the couple’s priest, with the couple’s names, date of marriage, and the name of the Catholic Church in which the wedding took place.

Pilgrimage is an ancient Christian practice.

Throughout the history of the Church, the faithful have chosen to make sacred journeys to the holy places.  To renowned shrines like Jerusalem, Rome, Assisi and Lourdes, pilgrims have been wandering the globe for centuries – a sign that the Christian has no permanent home in this world, but is destined for eternity.

These physical journeys have a spiritual purpose – they proceed from and toward the mystery of God. The inner pilgrimage is one of encounter with and discovery of the Divine, leaving the receptive pilgrim forever changed.

In contemporary society, which is characterised by intense mobility, many have participated in the growing industry of tourism. However many Catholics, even in Australia, have continued the tradition of pilgrimage. World Youth Days are another recent example.

“It is necessary to keep in mind, first of all, that evangelisation is the ultimate reason for which the Church proposes and encourages pilgrimages, such that they are transformed into an experience of deep and mature faith.” Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, 25 April 1998

History of Pilgrimage

Since the very first moment of their appearance on the stage of the world, human beings have always walked in search of new goals, investigating earthly horizons and tending towards the infinite. They navigated rivers and seas, climbed sacred mountains on whose summit the earth ideally meets the sky. They walked through time marking it with sacred dates. They considered birth as an entrance into the world and death as an exit to enter the womb of the earth or to be assumed into the divine regions.

Pilgrimages, a sign of the condition of the disciples of Christ in this world, have always held an important place in the life of Christians.

In the course of history, Christians have always walked to celebrate their faith in places that indicate a memory of the Lord or in sites representing important moments in the history of the Church. They have come to shrines honouring the Mother of God and to those that keep the example of the saints alive. Their pilgrimage was a process of conversion, a yearning for intimacy with God and a trusting plea for their material needs. For the Church, pilgrimages, in all their multiple aspects, have always been a gift of grace.

Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, 25 April 1998

Pilgrimage Options

Nearly every Roman street holds treasures of the Christian faith, and part of the experience of wandering the roads of the Eternal City is to enjoy these surprises. From hidden Churches and angel topped bridges to piazzas that showcase breathtaking masterpieces, Rome promises endless delight for the walking pilgrim. Our staff will be able to assist guests with pilgrimage options while in Rome.

“Remember that beyond the surface of shrines and relics, beneath the mere things of wood and stone, even above the occasional glories of sight and sound, there are intimations of immortality.” The World of Pilgrimage, G.Target

Vatican Resources

Read about the Pontifical Council devoted to pilgrimages here.

“There is never a pilgrim who returns home without one less prejudice and one new idea.” St Thomas More

Can I see the Pope?

We hope you can! Every Wednesday morning at 10:30 am the Holy Father holds a general audience in the Vatican. He also celebrates Mass or services in St Peter’s Basilica or St Peter’s Square on major liturgical feast days such as Christmas, Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday as well as special Masses such as Beatifications and Canonizations.

On Sundays and Holy Days at noon the Holy Father appears from his window in the Apostolic Palace overlooking St Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus (a Marian prayer), address the crowds and impart his apostolic blessing. During summer the Holy Father imparts this blessing from the courtyard of his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo (outside Rome).

What Papal events require at ticket and where do I get them?

If you wish to attend any Wednesday audience or public liturgy where the Holy Father is the celebrant or preside, you will need a special ticket.

These tickets are distributed through Vatican accredited centres in Rome and are entirely free, a gift from the Pope.

There is no ticket required for the Sunday Angelus (or Regina Caeli in the Easter Season).

When should I request my tickets?

Ticket requests are ideally made two months before your trip to Rome.

We make ticket requests for Papal audiences and Masses one week before an event. We need as much notice as possible of your request to ensure everything is properly processed.

Please note that tickets are not guaranteed as they are subject to availability and are ultimately granted at the discretion of the Vatican.