All official events for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. are ticketed, but there is a new opportunity for the public to see the Pope without needing a ticket.
After his visit to the White House on the morning of Sept. 23, Pope Francis will step into the Popemobile for a parade around The Ellipse on the south side of the White House, and onto the National Mall. Viewers can line the sides of the route to see Pope Francis without a ticket – they’ll just need to pass through a security check first.
“This will be an opportunity for the estimated tens of thousands of people expected to gather in Washington to see the Holy Father while he is visiting the nation’s capital, September 22-24,” the Archdiocese of Washington announced.
Participants will presumably have to arrive early to get a good spot, though – gates open at 4 a.m. ET. The website WalkWithFrancis.org has a list of “restricted items” that cannot be brought into the viewing area.
Pope Francis will afterwards head to St. Matthew’s Cathedral to meet and pray with the U.S. bishops at 11:30 a.m. ET, followed by the canonization mass for Bl. Junipero Serra outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 4:15 p.m. ET. The public can view telecasts of both events from giant screens on the National Mall, around the Washington Monument.
Can viewers picnic while watching Pope Francis’ day? Yes, as long as they abide by National Park Service regulations, the Washington archdiocese said.
The parade is the first public event in a D.C. tour that is exclusively ticketed. For Pope Francis’ address to Congress on Sept. 24, members of Congress received only one guest ticket to view the address inside the House gallery, and 51 tickets to watch a live broadcast of the address outside the U.S. Capitol building.
Tickets for the canonization Mass, which will be said in Spanish, are extremely hard to come by, even for Catholics in or near the District. Only 25,000 tickets are available, and a portion of those will be reserved for the Hispanic community.
The rest of the tickets are being distributed through parishes in the area. The Archdiocese of Washington is home to 620,000 Catholics and almost 140 parishes, and the neighboring Diocese of Arlington, which will also receive tickets, has more than 400,000 Catholics and almost 70 parishes.
By Matt Hadro