Huge crowds expected for Pope's last Wednesday General Audience.

2013-02-26 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Up to 200,000 people are expected to crowd into St. Peter’s Square for Pope Benedict’s last Wednesday audience before he officially steps down on Thursday. Brother Chris Kierans works for the Prefecture of the Papal Household and deals with requests from English-speaking pilgrims for registered tickets to the Wednesday audience. He spoke to Vatican Radio’s Susy Hodges.

Listen to the interview with Brother Kierans:

Brother Chris says there has been a dramatic spike in the number of requests for registered tickets for the Wednesday papal audience this week. He explains that compared to a typical Wednesday audience held in late February they received more than “50,000 requests for registered tickets” which, he says, is “eight times” the normal number in this period of the year which is considered low season. However, as Brother Chris goes on to explain, the registered tickets represent only a fraction of the total number of people who actually attend the papal audience. That’s because people obtain tickets via other channels or because they turn up at the edge of St. Peter’s square on the day itself hoping to get to see and hear the Pope.

When asked if the general audience has always been a crowd-puller throughout the pontificate of Pope Benedict, Brother Chris says “it certainly has” with thousands of people normally making requests for tickets from the Holy Week and Easter onwards when the “high season” officially begins.