The Best Way To See the Pope in Philadelphia Is To Fly To Rome

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The Pope’s Monsters of Christ tour will land in Philadelphia on September 26-27. There will be a million plus visitors flooding Benjamin Franklin Parkway on the Sunday for mass. Roads and bridges will be closed and public transpiration will be stretched to maximum capacity.  If you live within a 25-mile radius of Philadelphia, officials are telling people not to make any unnecessary trips. Expect mass chaos. MASS chaos. Get it!

I was watching the local Philly news when a bystander on the street commented that the Pope’s visit is a “once in a lifetime opportunity to see Pope Francis.” No, it isn’t. Here are you’re options:

  1. Get stuck in traffic 100 miles away starting at 8am to get on a crowded train so that you can walk a few miles to the Parkway to see a man in a hat from half a mile away.
  2. Fly to Rome and go to the Wednesday public mass in St. Peter’s Square where you can get within 10-15 feet as he waves and smiles to you.

Let me tell you, as a semi-practicing catholic, having the pope ride by you in the Popemobile is pretty exciting. You wait and wait until you hear the bells and then you try to figure out where he’s riding by. All of sudden, there he is waving.

I’ve seen Francis and Benedict, and as you can see in the pictures I’m about 10-20 feet from them both times. I didn’t have to endure a gauntlet of a million jabronis or confusion over the best way to get to an area. First time for Benedict, I sprung for a tour guide that included a ticket to get a closer view and fast track admission to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. Second time for Francis, I just went to the public, non-ticketed area of St. Peter’s Square and still got close enough for a great view.

The tickets for Wednesday papal audience are free and you can get them online here. It will allow you to get in a closer section of the square. Just check to see if the Pope will be in town. The tour groups are a decent idea if you want some in-depth information on the museum, the Cathedral and so on. The one I took used individual headphones so you can wonder around and not be glued to a shouting guide the whole time.

Finally, just go on Wednesdays with no ticket. You’ll just be in the back, but the Pope will still cruise by you at a slow pace. Then you can be on your way for the rest of the day to explore Rome and eat your weight in pasta, pizza and gelato. As much as I love Philly, it’s no Rome.

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