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Vatican eases access to St. Peter’s Basilica for sacraments

St Peter's Basilica, street view

Vlas Telino studio | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 03/31/23

A new route into the Basilica will make it easier for pilgrims and faithful to worship at the place where the Apostle Peter rests.

The Fabric of St. Peter, the Vatican institution responsible for maintenance of St. Peter’s Basilica, has announced a new initiative that will make entry to the basilica easier for those seeking to participate in the sacraments and prayer.

According to Vatican News, the statement released on Tuesday noted that “a new passageway dedicated to pilgrims and prayer-goers was opened in St. Peter’s Square ad experimentum.” The Latin phrase “ad experimentum” means that the initiative is currently only a temporary system as they experiment with the new arrangements. 

The statement noted that there will be a new route of entry for pilgrims and the faithful seeking to practice their faith within Vatican City, rather than being there just to see the sites: 

“The route winds its way inside the Vatican Basilica through the right aisle and allows pilgrims to reach the most significant places of the spiritual and liturgical life: the statue of the Pietà, the Altar of St. John Paul II, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the Gregorian Chapel with the image of Our Lady of Succor, the area reserved for penitents for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, until reaching the Altar of the Chair and the Chapel of St. Joseph for the celebration of Holy Mass. After reaching St. Joseph’s Chapel, the itinerary obliges you to leave by passing through the Vatican Grottoes.”

While the route is new, the hours will be the same, allowing access to the basilica from 6:50 a.m. until 6:40 p.m. The statement noted that the basilica and other “places of liturgical actions” are offered “completely free.” 

Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, the President of the “Fabbrica,” stated that these changes conform with “the Holy Father’s wishes” and should help to quell the long lines that form at the gates of St. Peter’s Square. He said: 

“We are introducing on an experimental basis a privileged route to allow the faithful, prayer groups, and pilgrims to come to pray in St Peter’s and participate in the Sacraments easily, without waiting in long queues.”

Furthermore, pilgrims who reach St. Peter’s as part of their journey, or “path,” will more easily be able to present their letters of credence and collect the parchment of “testimonium.” These papers authenticate and certify that a pilgrimage to the basilica has been completed. Various pilgrim routes throughout Europe offer these types of certificates, particularly well known is the Camino, in Spain.

While the Vatican did not specify how long this “experimental” period will last, it is likely that these new arrangements will remain in place if they are found to be beneficial to the faithful. 

The “experiment” comes just in time for the Vatican to be prepared for the millions of pilgrims expected to make a faith journey to Rome for the Jubilee of 2025.

Read more at Vatican News.

[Article updated after original publication]

CatholicJubilee 2025PilgrimagesVatican
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