When does the Midnight Mass start in the Vatican?

This sure sounds like a silly question – it’s literally in the name. Well, what if we told you that it’s really more of an Early Evening Mass? At what time does the Midnight Mass start in the Vatican? Not at Midnight, at least not since 2009.


When does the Midnight Mass start in the Vatican?

While many countries celebrate the Midnight Mass at midnight, the Vatican hasn’t since 2009. Pope Benedict XVI moved it to 10pm, Pope Francis moved it even earlier, to 9:30 pm, in 2013. So is that when the Midnight Mass starts now? No, it’s actually two hours earlier, at 7:30 pm.

Why did Pope Francis move it to an even earlier hour? Not exactly because he’s a sleepyhead – the change was introduced in 2020, when Italy introduced a 10 pm curfew to try to battle the coronavirus spread. To comply with the regulations, the mass had to end early enough for people to be able to get back home before 10 pm. And so the Pope moved it back and it remains at 7:30 pm still. In 2023, the Midnight Mass, too, will be held at 7:30 pm.


Where does the Midnight Mass take place in the Vatican?

As per usual, the Vatican’s Midnight Mass will take place in St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Mass itself takes place in the basilica, though there are screens streaming it on the square too.


Who conducts the Vatican Midnight Mass?

As is tradition, the Pope will hold the mass himself. As such, it will be Pope Francis leading the mass in St Peter’s Basilica this year.


Do you need tickets for the Midnight Mass in the Vatican?

Yes, you do. They allow you to enter the Basilica and attend the Midnight Mass live with the Pope. The tickets are free but you do still need to book them, and you have to do it very early. And it’s not really your traditional ticket booking process.

You have to fill out a request form and fax it directly to the Papal Household. You can find the form here. Having faxed it, you’ll receive an exclusive pope letter confirming that they have received your request. This doesn’t yet mean that you got in, though. When you arrive in Rome, you can check out whether they’ll give you the tickets. If you’re through, then you have to pick them up from an office to the right of the basilica and you’re good to go.

And if you don’t feel like going through all of that (though you are missing out on pope mail), you can just watch it on the screens in front of the basilica, on the square. Like the rest of us mortals.


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