Have You Been to St.Peter's Basillica for Christmas Eve?

So I got my tickets for the Christmas Vigil at St. Peter's in Rome!

The fax said to be there for 7pm, and that the Mass begins at 10 pm, but that the tickets are not a garauntee that we will get a seat inside the Basillica.

Has anyone been through this experience before? I definitely want to get inside the Basillica. How early did you go to the Vatican and wait in line?

[quote="Jordan_Francis, post:1, topic:178015"]
So I got my tickets for the Christmas Vigil at St. Peter's in Rome!

The fax said to be there for 7pm, and that the Mass begins at 10 pm, but that the tickets are not a garauntee that we will get a seat inside the Basillica.

Has anyone been through this experience before? I definitely want to get inside the Basillica. How early did you go to the Vatican and wait in line?

[/quote]

As a veteran of numerous Papal masses, especially at Christmas Eve, I can confirm that what they wrote you in the fax is true.

The line to the Christmas Midnight Mass begins forming sometime in the evening, or as soon as the Basilica closes at 6:15-ish PM. If you get there at around 6 or 7 PM, then not only will you be able to get inside, but you will also not have to sit somewhere towards the back....although sitting in the back sections is not necessarily a bad thing.

You will see that from 8:30 PM or so the line will be a huuuuuge snake curled to fit into St. Peter's square.

They open the Basilica at 10 PM to attendees and then the Holy Mass begins exactly at 12 AM. A lot of stuff happens between 10 and 12, and that wait time flies by rather quickly.

If you have any other questions about attending a Papal Mass at St. Peter's just ask.

Thanks. I think we'll show up around 6 pm just to be safe. I'll bring a good Catholic book with me to read while I wait.

I was also told that there is a Missallette handed out specifically for this Mass alone, which sounded like a reall nice memoria of the event. Is that so? How is that obtained?

[quote="Jordan_Francis, post:3, topic:178015"]
Thanks. I think we'll show up around 6 pm just to be safe. I'll bring a good Catholic book with me to read while I wait.

I was also told that there is a Missallette handed out specifically for this Mass alone, which sounded like a reall nice memoria of the event. Is that so? How is that obtained?

[/quote]

Yes. That is true. I have a few of these booklets, having purchased them off evilbay (ebay). They are really helpful. They have the sung chants as well as the readings. However, the language will depend on the manner in which the reading is proclaimed. If there is nothing in English, it might help you to have your Magnificat with you. Something else to note is that you will probably not hear a Christmas carol as the entrance procession. You will hear the anitphon, instead: "You are my Son, this day I have begotten you." It is either sung in Latin or in Italian, but, if memory serves from the broadcasts, it's in Latin.

[quote="Jordan_Francis, post:1, topic:178015"]
So I got my tickets for the Christmas Vigil at St. Peter's in Rome!

The fax said to be there for 7pm, and that the Mass begins at 10 pm, but that the tickets are not a garauntee that we will get a seat inside the Basillica.

Has anyone been through this experience before? I definitely want to get inside the Basillica. How early did you go to the Vatican and wait in line?

[/quote]

Oh WOW!! Please let us know how it goes... REALLY wish I could come!

Don't forget the dress code! (not sure if you're a girl Jordan or guy Jordan:))

[quote="Jordan_Francis, post:3, topic:178015"]
Thanks. I think we'll show up around 6 pm just to be safe. I'll bring a good Catholic book with me to read while I wait.

I was also told that there is a Missallette handed out specifically for this Mass alone, which sounded like a reall nice memoria of the event. Is that so? How is that obtained?

[/quote]

Yeah, they are very kind to print a missallette with the entire text of the Midnight Mass. Actually, they do this with all Papal liturgical events year round. It's actually a small booklet printed on high quality paper with about 50 or so pages. As soon as you enter the Basilica, you will see some ushers distributing these missallettes to everybody (for free), so you needn't worry about getting these. And as one of the posters mentioned here earlier, these booklets/missallettes are definitely keepers as memory of the Papal Mass. (I myself have through the years accumalated a nice stack of these :-D ). The only drawback to these booklets is that it assumes that the reader speaks Italian, as the whole text is double columned--one side for what is actually recited/sung (in Latin or another language)--and the 2nd column is a translation in Italian of everything in the 1st column. By the way, unless an attendee knows Italian, a knowledge of Latin goes a long way to understanding and better appreciating the Papal Masses--so I strongly recommend brushing up on your Latin or at least becoming familiar with the Latin text of the Ordinary of the Holy Mass (in case you're not already familiar with it).

Thanks. I can't wait. I took a year of classical Latin from 2008-2009,in school, so I know a little bit: the Pater Noster, Symbolum Apostolorum, pieces of a few of the penitential Psalms, and just a few key words and phrases: et cum spiritu tuo, gratia Deo, ect.

Come to think of it, I have the entire text of the Ordinary Form in Latin stashed away somewhere, so maybe I'll give it a brief study again.

[quote="kurtmasur, post:6, topic:178015"]
Yeah, they are very kind to print a missallette with the entire text of the Midnight Mass. Actually, they do this with all Papal liturgical events year round. It's actually a small booklet printed on high quality paper with about 50 or so pages. As soon as you enter the Basilica, you will see some ushers distributing these missallettes to everybody (for free), so you needn't worry about getting these. And as one of the posters mentioned here earlier, these booklets/missallettes are definitely keepers as memory of the Papal Mass. (I myself have through the years accumalated a nice stack of these :-D ). The only drawback to these booklets is that it assumes that the reader speaks Italian, as the whole text is double columned--one side for what is actually recited/sung (in Latin or another language)--and the 2nd column is a translation in Italian of everything in the 1st column. By the way, unless an attendee knows Italian, a knowledge of Latin goes a long way to understanding and better appreciating the Papal Masses--so I strongly recommend brushing up on your Latin or at least becoming familiar with the Latin text of the Ordinary of the Holy Mass (in case you're not already familiar with it).

[/quote]

During the panning of the faithful from the CTV broadcast, I noticed a few folks with earbuds. Granted, I listen to Vatican Radio online; however, most, if not all, of the broadcasts are translated via VR. Could these folks be listening to the translation via some little pocket device. To the OP: the only drawback is that the homily will be in Italian. Of course, when you get back home, you can always download the English translation. :shrug:

Now, early Christmas morning, the Holy Father will be greeting the faithful at St. Peter's Square with the Urbi et Orbi address. While most of it is in Italian, there is one, rather lengthy, greeting to all of the English-speaking pilgrims. Also, at the end of the address (and multi-lingual greetings), the Holy Father will impart his special Apostolic blessing which carries with it a plenary indulgence. To those of us not luck to be there :crying:, he graciously extends this indulgence to us if we are watching it LIVE (this means benedictgal has to wake up at 4:30AM). There is a lot of pomp. You get to see the Vatican City marching band, a plethora of Swiss Guard marching and all of that good stuff.

[quote="benedictgal, post:8, topic:178015"]
During the panning of the faithful from the CTV broadcast, I noticed a few folks with earbuds. Granted, I listen to Vatican Radio online; however, most, if not all, of the broadcasts are translated via VR. Could these folks be listening to the translation via some little pocket device. To the OP: the only drawback is that the homily will be in Italian. Of course, when you get back home, you can always download the English translation. :shrug:

Now, early Christmas morning, the Holy Father will be greeting the faithful at St. Peter's Square with the Urbi et Orbi address. While most of it is in Italian, there is one, rather lengthy, greeting to all of the English-speaking pilgrims. Also, at the end of the address (and multi-lingual greetings), the Holy Father will impart his special Apostolic blessing which carries with it a plenary indulgence. To those of us not luck to be there :crying:, he graciously extends this indulgence to us if we are watching it LIVE (this means benedictgal has to wake up at 4:30AM). There is a lot of pomp. You get to see the Vatican City marching band, a plethora of Swiss Guard marching and all of that good stuff.

[/quote]

I personally have never seen other attendees with the earbuds. My best bet is that the people wearing them are probably specially invited guests, sitting in a special reserved section.

To the OP, one more thing: In case you will be somewhere near the front of the line, as soon as they open the Basilica at 10 PM, the line immediately turns into a crowded stampede....and it can be quite chaotic. Be very careful not to lose sight of other people you might/will be traveling with.

The line actually begins by the Colonnade on the right side of the Square facing the Basilica. They have some barriers forming a zig-zagging path that leads to the security screens. This zig-zagging section can be especially problematic during the "stampede", so be careful. It is ultra crowded and everybody is pushing up against everybody. After you go through security, then you are allowed to enter the Basilica, which is still another couple of hundred feet from there... At this point (between security and the Basilica) it is less crowded with people, but many are running to the doors to get ahead of you. It sort of feels like an "every man for himself" atmosphere.

Be prepared to have your ticket in hand as you enter the Basilica. Some ushers can be very strict about this. I once noticed how they even denied a priest entry just for not having a ticket.

Once you're inside and seated, it's a time to finally relax and reflect upon the whole process and where you're at... I like to observe people trying to find a good spot near the general seating area or walking down the aisle to their reserved sections at the front close to the altar.

Usually while I am there waiting for midnight to approach and seeing a lot of desperate people trying to get in as quickly as possible and finding a decent spot, I can't help but imagine on how the whole process of attending Midnight Mass at St. Peter's kind of resembles a special "night of judgment"... only those prepared (with tickets and being there early) are the ones who make it...

Hmm, sounds like my experience at the Papal audience about a year ago. Once the square opened up, it was a free-for-all. We were nearly bludgeoned to death by an order of Mexican nuns.

I imagine Christmas can only magnify the chaos!

[quote="Jordan_Francis, post:11, topic:178015"]
Hmm, sounds like my experience at the Papal audience about a year ago. Once the square opened up, it was a free-for-all. We were nearly bludgeoned to death by an order of Mexican nuns.

I imagine Christmas can only magnify the chaos!

[/quote]

Ha! Watch out for them nuns....they tend to be one of the worst offenders!

[quote="Jordan_Francis, post:1, topic:178015"]
So I got my tickets for the Christmas Vigil at St. Peter's in Rome!

The fax said to be there for 7pm, and that the Mass begins at 10 pm, but that the tickets are not a garauntee

that we will get a seat inside the Basillica.

Has anyone been through this experience before? I definitely want to get inside the Basillica. How early did you go to the Vatican and wait in line?

[/quote]

How did you get the tickets?

Our family was there in 2004 - JPII's last midnight Mass :thumbsup:

We lined up in St. Peter's Square about 10pm and were no where near the front. We ended up getting in and standing in the back. Totally worth it because JPII entered up the center isle about 6 ft from us!

I think it would a honor to go. as for me its impossible im over 4,300 miles away from st.peters in rome im on other side of atlantic ocean in USA making trip very expensive and toataly impossible as i cannot fly or can afford to pay my way. ill watch it on tv thank you and hope if you go it can be your best christmas yet. may God bless you

[quote="KCT, post:14, topic:178015"]
Our family was there in 2004 - JPII's last midnight Mass :thumbsup:

We lined up in St. Peter's Square about 10pm and were no where near the front. We ended up getting in and standing in the back. Totally worth it because JPII entered up the center isle about 6 ft from us!

[/quote]

:)

I got the tickets via a faxed request to the Prefecture of the Papal Household. They were free.

I’ve been studying in Germany since September, so this is why I have the oppertunity to go, it is not so far away from me right now.

This is exactly what I meant when I mentioned in an earlier post that “sitting in the back sections is not necessarily a bad thing.”

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.