​There are an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world, according to Vatican figures. More than 40% of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America – but Africa has seen the biggest growth in Catholic congregations in recent years.

Latin America accounts for 483 million Catholics, or 41.3% of the total Catholic population. Of the 10 countries in the world with the most Catholics, four are in Latin America. Brazil has the highest Catholic population of any country. The figure was put at 123 million in the last Brazilian census and as high as 150 million in 2010 figures compiled by the World Christian Database. Italy has the most Catholics in Europe, with 57 million, while DR Congo has the biggest Catholic population in Africa, ranking ninth in the world with almost 36 million.

Global shift

Since 1970, Catholicism has seen a global shift southwards – the proportion of Catholics living in Europe has declined, while Africa has seen a growth in the number of Catholics – from 45 million in 1970 to 176 million in 2012. Asia has also seen a growth in Catholicism and now represents almost 12% of the total Catholic population in the world, or 137 million people.



The Cross is more than jewelry – it’s a call to love, Pope Francis says

The Cross is more than jewelry – it’s a call to love, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis waves to faithful during the Angelus prayer he delivered from his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, March 12, 2017. (Credit: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia.)

“The Christian Cross is not a furnishing for the house or an ornament to wear, but a call to the love with which Jesus sacrificed himself to save humanity from evil and from sin,” the Pope said to faithful gathered in St. Peter’s square during his Sunday Angelus address.

ROME – On Sunday Pope Francis said Lent is a time to really contemplate the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us on the Cross, which is more than just a devotional symbol, but an exhortation to imitate the love of Christ.

“The Christian Cross is not a furnishing for the house or an ornament to wear, but a call to the love with which Jesus sacrificed himself to save humanity from evil and from sin,” the pope said March 12.

As Lent moves forward, he encouraged Christians to “contemplate with devotion” the image of the Jesus crucified on the Cross, which is “the symbol of our Christian faith, it’s the emblem of Jesus, died and risen for us.

“Let us make sure that the Cross marks the stages of our Lenten journey in order to increasingly understand the severity of sin and the value of the sacrifice with which the Redeemer has saved us,” he said.

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square during his Sunday Angelus address, which he focused on today’s Gospel passage from Matthew recounting the scene of the Transfiguration.

Speaking from the window of the papal apartments in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Francis noted how in the passage, Matthew points out that Jesus’ face “shown like the sun and his garments became white as light.”

The “brightness” that characterizes the Transfiguration, he said, symbolizes the event’s ultimate aim, which is “to illuminate the minds and hearts of the disciples so that they are able to clearly understand who their master is.”

“It’s a flash of light that opens unexpectedly, opens the mystery of Jesus and illuminates his entire person and his story,” he said.

Since they are already drawing near to Jerusalem, where Jesus will undergo his violent Passion and death, the Lord wants to prepare them for “this scandal that’s too strong for their faith and, at the same time, announce his resurrection, manifesting himself as the Messiah,” the pope said.

By revealing himself in the way that he did to Peter, James and John, Jesus shows that he is a Messiah different than what was commonly expected at the time: he’s not “a powerful and glorious king, but a humble and disarmed servant; not a gentleman with great wealth, a sign of blessing, but a poor man who has no place to rest his head; not a patriarch with numerous descendants, but a homeless bachelor without a nest.

“It’s truly a revelation of God upside down,” Pope Francis said, explaining that “the most disconcerting sign of this scandalous reversal is the Cross.”

However, it’s precisely through the Cross that Jesus will achieve “the glorious resurrection,” he said, noting that by transfiguring himself, Jesus wanted to show his disciples his glory not to help them avoid the Cross, but to “indicate where the Cross leads.

“Whoever dies with Christ, will rise with Christ. Whoever fights together with him, will triumph with him,” the pope said. “This is the message of hope that the Cross of Jesus contains.”

Mary, he said, was someone who knew how to contemplate this glory of Jesus that was masked by his humanity. He prayed that she would help Christians “to be with him in silent prayer, to allow ourselves to be illuminated by his presence, to carry in our heart, through the darkest of nights, a reflection of his glory.”

After leading pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer, Francis offered special prayers for the victims of a March 8 fire at a safe house for girls in Guatemala.

“Brothers and sisters, I express my closeness to the people of Guatemala who live in mourning due to the grave and sad news of the fire that erupted inside the Virgin of the Assumption Safe House, causing victims and wounded among the girls who lived there,” he said.

In his address, Pope Francis prayed that the Lord would “welcome their souls, heal the wounded, console their grieving families and the entire nation.”

He also invited faithful to pray with him “for all boys and girls who are victims of violence, mistreatment, exploitation and wars.

“This is a plague,” he said. “This is a hidden cry that must be heard by all of us and which we can’t continue to pretend not to see or to hear.”

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◊ Masses with the Pope at the Vatican ◊

Papal Masses:

Masses with the Pope at the Vatican can be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica, in St Peter’s Square or both together depending on the celebration and the expected number of people attending.

Masses with the Pope at St Peter’s Basilica:

Most of the masses from the Pontifical liturgical calendar at are celebrated at St Peters Basilica. 
St Peter’s Basilica has a huge capacity and can easily host more than 15.000 people which seems big enough for most of the Papal Masses. 
However there are some Masses when the Holy See is expecting a larger number of people and for those Masses they will use St Peters Square. 
For more details please see below ” Masses at St Peters Square”. 

Normally the Holy see issues different kind of tickets for St Peters Basilica Masses. 
Tickets for Cardinals, Governors and Diplomats ,Bishops, Priests, special guests and public tickets.
For most of the Masses with the Pope you will need to have a ticket. 

Tickets are always free. 

If you have a regular ticket to participate in a Papal Mass and you are looking for a good close up picture of the Pope or a location close to the Altar you will need to arrive early to the Mass. 
Don’t forget that to attend these celebrations you will need to pass through security scanners (like the airport) and long lines are to be expected. 
We recommend you if you have a regular public ticket and you are looking for a good place to arrive 1- 3 hrs before the scheduled start time.

Tickets for Masses at St. Peter’s Basilica with the Pope:

If you need between 1 – 6 tickets you can get tickets directly from the Swiss Guards usually from 3 days before the Mass: 
You can collect your tickets directly from the Swiss Guards in St. Peter’s Square at the “Bronze Door” from 8am till 8pm Summer Time – 8am till 7pm Winter Time

.Papal Audiene Ticket Collection

However if it’s a Popular Mass such as Christmas Eve or Easter Mass you will need to reserve tickets in advance to guarantee availability. 
If you will need more than 10 tickets for any of the Masses you will definitely need to reserve in advance, and then collect your tickets usually 1-3 days before the event from the Prefecture of the Papal Household for more details: 

vatican logo

Click on the Right Icon to Download a .PDF Ticket Request Form : 

Masses with the Pope at St.Peter Square:

If the mass is celebrated in St Peter’s Square, the number accommodated is much larger than the Church. 
St Peter’s Square can host up to 80 000 people. 
So normally for the seated area you will need a ticket but mostly you can attend standing without a ticket. 
However there are big Masses such as important canonizations or the Urbi et Orbi blessing than attract huge numbers and St Peter’s Square is not big enough. 
Again, places will only be be guaranteed according your arrival time.


The tickets will be asked for at the entrance of the Mass. 
Tickets DOES NOT necessarily guarantee entrance or a seat. 
When the church / Square is full access will be denied even with your ticket. 
Only your arrival time will guarantee your access so come early.

Tickets for special guests: (or reparto speciale):

These tickets giving you a special location at the event or Mass with the Pope. 
Normally these tickets are reserved only for religious guest, goverment authorities through a reservation applied though the church or any other religious institution. 

◊ Easter Midnight / Christmas Eve Mass Tickets at the Vatican ◊

Easter Masses & Christmas Eve Masses are traditionally celebrated at St Peter’s Basilica. 
Capacity is limited and it can be very hard sometimes to get tickets for these events so you must book far in advance, no less than 2 months usually. 

Reservation Procedure: 
The best way to get your ticket for Easter/Christmas Masses is to send a fax from your country directly to the Vatican between 6 to 2 months in advance. 
If the number of your request is not very large, lets say a family numbering 2-6 tickets you will have a bigger chance of getting your tickets. 
Normally the Vatican will reply to your home address with a letter notifying you that they have received your request and where to take the letter at the Vatican to collect tickets. 
They will not confirm tickets have been issued until you go to the prefecture office for collection.
There you will either receive your tickets or a letter to say there was not enough availability. 
Again, the sooner you make you reservation the more chance there is of availability. 
The smaller the number of tickets requested the higher the chance of having your request granted so we suggest don’t book extra tickets unnecessarily. 
If you order a large number of tickets such a group or more than 10 tickets we recommend you to send the request together with a letter of your parish or some authority of the church. 
Tickets are collected at the Preffetura Vaticana located just after the “Bronze Doors” at St Peter’s Basilica normally from 5-4 days days before the event from 8am till 6 or 7pm depending if it’s winter or summer

vatican logoTICKETS ARE ALWAYS FREE !!! 

For more information contact Prefecture of the Papal Household: 

Prefecture of the Papal Household 
00120 Vatican City State 
Fax: +39 06 6988 5863 

Click on the Right Icon to Download a .PDF Ticket Request Form: 


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