Hoping for a Glimpse of the Pope? Head to the Ellipse Sept. 23 - NBC4 Washington
2015 Papal Visit

2015 Papal Visit

Pope Francis' First U.S. Visit, Sept. 22-27

Hoping for a Glimpse of the Pope? Head to the Ellipse Sept. 23

Public will also be able to watch pope's White House address on Jumbotrons nearby

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    NEWSLETTERS

    D.C. Stepping Up Security for Pope Francis' Historic Visit

    News4's Mark Segraves reports on what to expect when it comes to security around the nation's capital when the pope comes to town. (Published Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015)

    If you're hoping to get a glimpse of Pope Francis during his upcoming trip to D.C., your best chance may be at the White House Ellipse.

    The pope will travel in the Popemobile around the Ellipse after visiting the White House on Sept. 23, the Archdiocese of Washington announced Thursday.

    No tickets will be required for the viewing area, but visitors will have to go through security gates to gain access. Gates will be open from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. that day.

    Visitors will not be permitted to bring in outside food or drink, but concessions will be available for purchase. Once inside, no one will not be allowed to leave and return.

    Road Closures, Busy Metro for Upcoming Papal Visit

    [NATL-DC] Road Closures, Busy Metro for Upcoming Papal Visit
    News4 Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss talks to D.C. leaders, who predict full Metro trains and buses, road closures, congestion, and delays during the pope's visit to D.C.
    (Published Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015)

    Pope Francis' motorcade is expected to drive through sometime between 1030 a.m. and 11 a.m.

    That event may be the best time for most D.C.-area residents to catch a personal glimpse of the Holy Father during his time in D.C. It's the only event that is open without tickets.

    The rest of the region will be faced with a challenge during the Pope's three-day stay, from Sept. 22 through Sept. 24. Officials from D.C., the Secret Service, the Archdiocese of Washington and Metro discussed details of the visit in a press confernce Thursday afternoon -- and warned to expect road closures, congestion and delays.

    RAW VIDEO: DC Officials Discuss Pope's Visit

    [DC] RAW VIDEO: DC Officials Discuss Pope's Visit
    D.C. Mayor Bowser joins officials from the U.S. Secret Service, the Archdiocese of Washington, Metro and others to discuss the Pope's upcoming visit to D.C.
    (Published Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015)

    Despite the inconvenience, Mayor Muriel Bowser -- who is Catholic -- said the region is prepared, and she is excited by the visit. 

    "We host a lot of dignitaries, and having probably the most popular person in the world visit your city is a good thing," she said Thursday. 

    "As a Catholic I am just delighted with his willingness to take on issues that we haven't seen discussed in our church," Bowser said. "As a person who cares about the earth, I am excited that he is taking on climate change ... and as an administration that is committed to ending homelessness, we were encouraged by the Pope's and the Archdiocese's attention to the problem of homelessness."

    The Pope will begin the visit on Sept. 22,  when he will be welcomed to the United States by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at Andrews Air Force Base. There are no public events that day.

    On Sept. 23, the Pope will go to the White House for an official welcoming ceremony. Then he will meet privately with the President.

    After that meeting, he will circle the Ellipse, then will go to St. Matthew's Cathedral for a mid-day prayer service and a meeting with U.S. bishops.

    At 4:15 p.m. that day he will hold a mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast, where he will canonize Junipero Serra, a Spanish-born Franciscan friar. This is the first time that a Pope will canonize an American saint on U.S. soil, the Archdiocese said Thursday.

    On Sept. 24, the Pope will travel to the Capitol to address a joint meeting of Congress. Then he will meet with Catholic Charities officials at St. Patrick's Cathedral at 19th and G streets. 

    His last official act in D.C. will be just outside St. Patrick's, where he will help feed the homeless on G Street.

    All D.C. public schools and the D.C. government will be open, Bowser said at the press conference. But business leaders encouraged employers to allow telework; the federal government has already said employees can work at home during the visit.

    Massachusetts Avenue northbound will be entirely closed during the visit near the Pope's residence at the Apostolic Nunciature in northwest D.C. Massachusetts will be closed from Waterside Drive to Garfield Street during the entire visit.

    In addition, there will be closures when the Pope is at the White House and Capitol, and around the Basilica during the canonization mass. 

    Transit service is certain to be disrupted and crowded. Besides the road closures that will affect about 70 bus lines, Metro trains will be full of people trying to make their way not only to the Pope but also to work and to other events.

    "Keep in mind the the Orioles will be playing the Nationals at Nats Park, there will be several concert events at the Verizon Center, and we have all the commuter traffic of a typical work week," said Leif Dormsjo, director of D.C.'s Department of Transportation. "But transit is still the best mode of transportation to get into the downtown."

    DDOT will be adding members of the National Guard to its usual traffic control staff to help manage 70 intersections during the visit, Dormsjo said at Thursday's press conference.

    Metro is expecting particularly heavy traffic for the canonization mass at the Brookland station on the Red Line. "It's going to be a challenge at Brookland. It's not the largest station. It is obviously the closest station," said Jack Requa, Metro's interim general manager.

    He urged visitors to use the Rhode Island Avenue station or Fort Totten station as alternatives; Metro will provide shuttle service from those stations.

    "If they want to use Brookland, it is going to be a wait," Requa said.

    Meanwhile, the Secret Service has declared the event a "National Special Security Event" and has jurisdiction over the entire visit. 

    Despite the challenges, organizers are trying to make the visit easy on those who want to see at least an image of the pope. They are setting up Jumbotrons on the National Mall so visitors can watch the White House address.

    The archdiocese will set up the giant screens on the northeast quadrant of the Washington monument grounds, near 15th Street and Constitution Avenue.

    After the pope leaves the Ellipse area, the Jumbotrons will remain up for people to watch subsequent events Wednesday, when Pope Francis addresses U.S. bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, as well as the Mass on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Catholic University of America.

    Between the two latter events, a pre-Mass program will be shown on the Jumbotron.

    Those watching live coverage will be permitted to bring signs, food and drinks into the area, as long as the're in compliance with guidelines set by the National Park Service, the Archdiocese of Washington said.