I saw some really surprising photos today, posted by EWTN colleagues, that showed people waiting in an enormous line to enter the Vatican and the Paul VI Hall for today’s general audience with Pope Francis. The lines you see here were confirmed by friends at Homebaked that is just across the street from the south walls of Vatican City that you see here. Homebaked opens at 8am.

The crowd you see here is about a half block from my house (and I am 3 blocks from St. Peter’s Square:

This photo shows people walking several blocks further down Via di Porta Cavalleggeri towards St. Peter’s Square and just before one turns the corner and walks to the left hand colonnade where the security checks take place.

As you turn the corner, you see the left hand colonnade –

It turns out that many faithful did not make it today into the Vatican and one colleague who took these photos was told by a Vatican guard, “the hall is now closed.” I don’t know how many did not make it to the audience.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household, the Vatican office that arranges tickets for these audiences, has this on its website: “GENERAL AUDIENCE Tickets required – free of charge. Tickets can be collected at the Bronze Door (under the right-hand colonnade in St Peter’s Square) between 15:00 and 19:00 on the preceding afternoon, or on the morning of the audience from 7:00. The Wednesday General Audience starts at 9:15 am; however, the Holy Father begins his tour among the various sections at 9:00 am. Therefore, it is recommended to be at the place of the event by 8:45 am, taking into account the time necessary to pass the security controls (metal detectors), as well as the inevitable waiting lines.”

Where it writes “the Holy Father begins his tour among the various sections at 9:00 am,” it is referring to those times when audiences are held in St. Peter’s Square and Pope Francis makes the rounds in a white jeep.

However, there have not been any general audiences in St. Peter’s Square for some time because of Covid. Audiences were held online for some time and then gradually, with social distancing (to some degree) in the San Damaso Courtyard and more recently to the Paul VI Hall.

The Paul VI Hall has a limited number of seats, so more tickets than seats available, could not be given out. Thus, why people could not get in today if they possessed tickets, remains a mystery for the moment.


In the greetings to the Polish pilgrims at today’s general audience, Pope Francis explained that, before the start of the audience, in a space just outside the Paul VI Hall, he blessed two bells named “The voice of the unborn” that will go to Ukraine and Ecuador.

Francis said, “For these nations and for all, they are a sign of commitment in favor of the defense of human life from conception to natural death. May their sound announce the ‘Gospel of life’ to the world, awaken the consciences of men and the memory of the unborn. I entrust to your prayer every conceived child whose life is sacred and inviolable. I heartily bless you!”

This initiative – bells for the “The voice of the unborn” – began in Poland and has been spreading to other countries. In fact, in the September 23, 2020 general audience, Pope Francis had spoken of the bells initiative and appealed to the legislators, saying. “Their voice will awaken the consciences of lawmakers and of all people of goodwill in Poland and throughout the world.”

“The Voice of the Unborn” is promoted by the Polish “Yes to Life” Foundation of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary that works to defend of unborn life. The words of Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko are engraved on the bell: “The life of a child begins under the heart of the mother” but the fifth commandment also reads: “Thou shalt not kill”.  The bells blessed today by the Pope are destined for the parish of St. John Paul II in Lviv, Ukraine, and for the archdiocese of Guayaquil, Ecuador. (from vaticannews)

Each bell weighs one ton and is on a mobile base that will allow it to be transported around the country to which it is destined. The bells are made in a Polish foundry and are copies of a bell made for Poland and presented to Pope Francis for a blessing on September 23, 2010.

Video of the blessing: https://www.vaticannews.va/it/papa/news/2021-10/papa-francesco-udienza-vita-bambini-non-nati-campane.html

Archbishop Mieczyław Mokrzycki of Lviv, Ukraine told the Vatican paper that the bell will be placed at a pastoral center named for St. John Paul II in Leopoli. As it is on a portable foundation, it will be able to travel to pro-life events in the country.

Today’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano noted that Pope Francis also blessed an electric car named ‘Laudato si ‘ that a group of young people, who wrote the “Emobi Road to Cop26” project, will drive from Rome to Glasgow where, from November 1 ro 12,, the United Nations will hold its conference on climate change known as Cop26. According to the young people from Italy, Poland and Indonesia, the car “is our mobile embassy of integral ecology to make heard the “voice of young people and those who risk marginalization and exclusion.” Their trip originated in Poland.