Apologies to my colleague Daniel Ibanez whose photos of the general audience I used yesterday in my column but failed to credit him! Grazie, Dani!

Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni sent a brief message to journalists, stating, “This morning the Holy Father did not go to the Lateran for the penitential liturgy with the Roman clergy. Due to a slight indisposition, he preferred to remain close to Santa Marta (residence); other commitments proceed regularly.”

Pope Francis was scheduled to go to St. John Lateran basilica this morning for a penitential liturgy with the clergy of the diocese of Rome, In his stead, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar of the diocese of Rome, read the Pope’s prepared talk that was later posted on the Vaticannews website. A meeting scheduled to take place before the Pope’s departure for the Lateran was held with members of the “Global Catholic Climate Movement” in a small room of the Paul VI Hall.


Every time I go from my house to EWTN offices on Via della Conciliazione or to Vatican City, I pass by or through the colonnades of St. Peter’s Square and often walk through or close to the square. And every day, rain or shine, there are dozens of people (99 percent are men) accosting visitors, asking them, for example, if they want to “skip the line” to the Vatican Museums, the basilica, etc.

Frequently, I stop and watch these ticket hawkers. Occasionally I ask them who they are, what they are doing, who they represent, etc. With very rare exceptions, they are more or less self-appointed. Some might actually have a relationship with a travel agency and their job is to tell you to go to that agency to get your museum entrance tickets, etc. (tickets that will, in the long run, cost more than the official ones). These hawkers are more annoying than anything else.

TIP: ignore the hawkers and go to official websites for all the legitimate prices and information.

Maybe you are coming to the Eternal City – or perhaps you have family members and friends who have Rome on their schedule. If so, the following information is vital – it will save you time and money. Spread the word – send the link to this column to friends.

For all info on visiting the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Gardens and the weekly excursion to Castelgandolfo, go to the Museums official site. You will see prices, itineraries and be able to reserve your visit, thus, no standing in line!

For papal audiences or Masses (always FREE) you can request tickets through the Prefecture of the Papal Household. They have changed the procedure for requesting tickets and basically have made it more difficult but, as the Roman say, pazienza!

You may also contact St. Patrick’s church in Rome – the church for Catholic Americans and English-speaking Catholics:

For a great hop on-hop off bus experience around Rome I recommend ORP, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi:

For city busses in Rome, you do have to have tickets to travel. That may sounds silly but you cannot imagine the people who get on without a ticket and then are surprised when ATAC bus officials fine them for not having one. There are very few busses with machines onboard for buying tickets. Tickets may be purchases at coffee bars, tobacco stores (they sell tons of things in addition to cigarettes) and some souvenir stores. IMPORTANT: Tickets must be validated (stamped) once on the bus. There are yellow and black machines in the front and back of busses for this.

On my blog, Joan’s Rome, you will find a link on the right side of the page that has tons more info for visiting the Vatican, etc: CLICK HERE FOR PRACTICAL INFORMATION ON VISITING THE VATICAN