FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions from our Website:
Here are some of the questions we are often asked, followed by some important Links you may wish to check out. Finally we give credit to the many photographers who helped us set up this site.
1. What is the Pope's email address?
Everyone wants to talk directly to the pope. Unfortunately the population of the world is now over 6 billion people and the Holy Father is not capable of speaking to each person privately.Though Pope Benedict had an email address, so far Pope Francis has not listed his.
2. Is it possible to attend private Mass with the Holy Father?
On days that he does not celebrate public Mass, the Holy Father has private Mass in the Chapel of Santa Marta. As with Pope Benedict, we have not been successful in assisting people (or ourselves for that matter) in attending private papal masses. The only rare possibility may be to try is to ask your bishop to write a letter of request. Bishops know how to do this and if your bishop is willing, you might have the privilege.
3. How do I get to sit in the front row at the General Audience and meet the Pope?
There are forty seats reserved in the front row at every General Audience each Wednesday morning. Oftentimes these people are brought forward to meet the Holy Father at the end of the audience and have their picture taken. These seats are often reserved for diplomats, important government officials or visiting church dignitaries. If you want to sit here, once again, ask your bishop to write a letter for you. However, please know that with the size of the audience crowds with Pope Francis, this system is changing. We have not been successful in obtaining Reparto Speciale tickets.
4. The children in our third grade class have all written letters to the Holy Father as a class project for World Peace, where should I send them?
We often receive these packages at Santa Susanna and are asked to forward them. Instead of sending them to us, address them to: S.E. R. Mons. Georg Gänswein, Prefetto, Prefettura della Casa Pontificia, 00120 Cittá del Vaticano. Bishop Gänswein works for the Holy Father and will see that Pope Francis gets them.
5. It would be so wonderful if the Pope would write a note for my son or daughter's confirmation or first communion I know that it would deepen their faith. What can I do to make this happen?
Once again you can make your request to Bishop Georg Gänswein at the Vatican. However the possibility of the Pope writing directly to your child is very unlikely. While the Pope may write personal notes to a few close friends, most of what the Holy Father writes, carries the weight of church law and become an official document of the church. So a personal note from the Pope is a very rare thing. Suggestion: Send the Holy Father a personal note at Christmas or Easter and you just might be fortunate enough to receive a Christmas or Easter card, pre-printed with the Pope's greeting and signature.
6. I have been unable to reach a convent mentioned on your website, can you contact them for me, I can give you my credit card number or send you a check?
Convents listed on our website are for your information only. We know that there are often just a few English speakers in these places, but we cannot be an agency that makes contact for you. It is just too difficult for us, so do not ask! While there are a growing number of email addresses for convents on our present list, many places are best reached by fax. This allows you to communicate in English and one of the sisters can read it and reply. If you do decide to call directly, remember the time change, six hours from the east coast and more if you are in the mid west or the west coast! Be patient and be polite. Think if an Italian speaker called your home, how you would react. If an Italian speaking sister answers, speak slowly and ask if there is someone there who speaks English. Oftentimes there will be.
7. I really want a ticket to Christmas Eve Mass with the Holy Father, can you help me get one?
These tickets have become increasingly difficult to acquire for these masses. We no longer request tickets ourselves. So we have stopped offering tickets. Many people arrive in Rome with the expectation that they will have these tickets because they asked in advance, only to discover that the tickets are not available. Santa Susanna no longer offers this service at Christmas or Easter. Ie have our own masses in English and we spend a great deal of time preparing, so you are very welcome to come and join us, if you find yourself without tickets to Saint Peter's.
Even though Christmas is a family holiday for Romans, and thus a quieter time, it is also a very beautiful time to visit the eternal city. The weather can be very nice, or it can be cold and rainy. However, the lights are beautiful and the presepi (nativity scenes or creches) are wonderful to visit: each church has a unique presepio often set in a particular environment. From Christmas Eve until Epiphany, the city is quieter than usuall and there is less traffic. Some shops and restaurants are closed, but this is less true than 10 years ago and there is always a nice restaurant or trattoria available for your dining pleasure. The Vatican and its museums are closed during a part of this time, so check the schedule. Also public transportation runs on a limited schedule and stops about 9 PM on Christmas Eve. Even if you get tickets to the mass at Saint Peter's you may have to walk back to your hotel across Rome at 2 in the morning. However, you will find the whole Christmas in Rome experience very wonderful, romantic, spiritual and inspiring.
If you want to apply for a ticket for Christmas or Easter, you can contact the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, at the Bishops Office for U.S. Visitors Office to the Vatican, Via dell' Umiltá 30, 00187 Rome, Italy. It is located at the Casa Santa Maria dell'Umiltà, one block from the Trevil Fountain. Their mailing address is:
U.S. Bishop's Visitor Office, Via dell' Umiltà 30, 00187 Rome, Italy
You can telephone them at Rome Tel. 011-3906-6900-1821 or send them a fax at FAX: 011/3906/679-1448
They can also be reached by email at: email@example.com
8. Cardinal Law of Boston is your titular Cardinal, how do I contact him?
Many people think that because Bernard Law of Boston is the Cardinal Priest of Santa Susanna, that he keeps an office here at the church in Rome. He does not. Until recently he maintained an office at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
9. My mother has a great devotion to the Little Flower, how can I get a relic of the saint for her birthday?
At one time, it was quite common to find a number of places in Rome that would allow you to acquire a relic. A relic can never be purchased because it is a holy object, but you would make an offering for the metal case in which it came. The largest collection of relics in Rome belongs to the Vatican and it kept at the Lateran. Actually they are kept at a small convent nearby. The practice of making relics available to the public ended more than ten years ago at the insistence of the Vatican. Today you can apply to this Reliquarium for a specific relic only with a Nihil Obstat or a letter of permission from your local bishop. You must also state that the relic is to be used for a church altar or other public religious purpose. The private ownership of relics is highly discouraged.
10. I know you have mass in English at Santa Susanna, but I want to go to mass in English at one of the great basilicas, what time are these Masses?
The complete schedule of public masses at the Major Papal Basilicas is listed in this website. Go to Pope and Vatican/Basilicas. But these public masses are normally in Italian. So while you might want to go to Saint Peters for mass in English, unless you go accompanied by a priest who is celebrating in English it normally will not happen. The places in Rome were you can attend mass in English are listed here also at Visitors/Worship. We recommend these and especially invite you to Santa Susanna.
11. I am part of a choir that is making a tour of Italy this year, could we have a concert at Santa Susanna?
We get an increasing number of requests from choirs and are happy to host you when we can. It is easy to find a church and Santa Susanna has some of the best accustics in Rome. It is much more difficult to find an audience to attend, if you have not brought your own. So we suggest that choirs perform at Santa Susanna as part of the Saturday night or Sunday morning mass and following mass, perform a short concert for our congregation. It can be a very nice experience. If you are interested contact Fr. Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will advise you. We normally do not have concerts during the week because we cannot guarantee an audience for you, so sorry!
12. My wife and I would like to renew our wedding vows at Saint Peter's Basilica, how do we do this?
It can be a wonderful experience to renew your wedding vows in Rome, especially if your anniversary date occurs during the time of your visit! The problem is that Saint Peters is not terribly accomodating of your request. Mass is celebrated at specific times in Italian and these are not occassions that allow you to renew your vows. To do this you need to find a priest who will arrange an early morning private mass at the basilica between 6:30 and 8 AM when such masses are allowed. A little too early in the morning for many couples! Please do not even think of asking us to do it, for we are just too busy. Here is another alternative. You are welcome to renew your vows at Santa Susanna at our weekday evening mass at 6 PM. It means that a congregation will be present to celebrate with you, and you can then go out for a romantic dinner afterwards. Contact Father Greg or Father Steve and we will help arrange a time. You need to make these arrangements at least a month in advance. We require that you send us a copy of your Church wedding certificate AND a letter from your pastor stating that you are active parishioners of your parish. Please note that during vacation times we may not have access to the Internet, so if you don't hear from one of us, try the other!
These links will take you to some useful sites about Rome, and the Vatican. Because these sites are maintained by other people, we can't take any responsibility for their contents, but we have foind some of their information interesting of useful.
We wish to thank the following for their use of pictures and images:
Fr. Greg Apparcel
Marymount Schools in Rome
Father Domenico and the Cistercian Sisters of the Monastery of Santa Susanna