For those of faith, Christmas eve is as important date as Christmas day itself, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Whilst mass is attended at churches around the globe, in Rome it is something even more special. Home to the Catholic Church hundreds of thousands arrive upon Vatican City to be addressed in a service conducted by the Pope. St Peter’s Basilica itself hosts 15,000 attendees whilst out in St-Peters Square the ceremony is televised to around 140,000 onlookers who travel from across the world. As well as the Christmas period, it is estimated around 6 million visit the Vatican over the course of a year.
Tickets for mass at the Vatican need to be booked well in advance. Although entrance to St Peter’s Church and Square is free, apply through the official website or in writing between June and October. When you have received confirmation tickets are available around a week ahead of the event. The nearest airports are Ciampino Airport and the Leonardo da Vinci Airport, which are approximately 45minutes away from the city centre of Rome. Although traditionally Mass is held at midnight, the Pope starts proceedings at the earlier time of around 10pm but be mindful the visitor numbers will make it a longer journey to arrive on time.
If you are looking to visit the Vatican for mass, then request tickets as far in advance as possible. Numbers inside St Peter’s Basilica are limited and so if you wish to view from the square, arrive early to get the best view. Remember this is out in the open, so dress for the adverse weather conditions whilst staying respectful of the church. If you’re not successful or put off by the vast numbers, then Rome is still the place to be, the Pantheon Temple holds mass in its impressive surrounding or there are plenty of other smaller churches available.
Look into private rentals, including houses and apartments, villas and holiday homes close to Vatican City. If you are staying elsewhere in the city, then it is easiest to walk around Rome on foot. Check our accommodation in Rome.
If you are in Vatican City for Mass, make another visit during your holiday for the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. Elsewhere in Rome are the famous ruins of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Walking tours are popular where you will visit the beautiful Trevi Fountain and Pantheon Temple.
For more information about Christmas Mass, including: religious traditions, celebrations in the east and west, traditional meals, the history of gift giving, historical events, links to other religious dates and more see here.
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