Blackout at the Vatican

In the middle of the night I woke up to hundreds of messages from people asking me if I was okay because they heard there was a massive blackout and shootout at the Vatican.

First, thanks everyone for your concern.

Second and third, there was no massive blackout at the Vatican and certainly no shootout.

Fourth, here’s a live video at the bottom of the page I shot from the Vatican during a “blackout.”

I received so many links to videos and articles about how a huge sting was underway. There was a gunfight. The Vatican was surrounded by military and police. And the pope was arrested and being held in an Italian prison waiting for the FBI to arrive.

Now, I love a good conspiracy as much as everyone. You might remember when I posted the video of smoke rising over the Vatican. That video was shown in newscasts all over the world. It was actually a fire at a nearby tire shop. I’m in Snopes now thanks to that one.

But a gunfight at the Vatican and the pope being held by the FBI.. what? Also reports of US SWAT helicopters landing in the middle of Saint Peter’s Square to get the pope. Surely the US SWAT team would know that it would be much easier to land right by the pope’s front door, not several hundred meters away.

I looked out my window (I can see the Vatican from my apartment) lights were on. No gunfights. No police. Cars were coming and going as usual on an early winter Sunday morning.

The video many sent me was from the live-feed of the Vatican YouTube page. Here’s a clip:

As you can see, the camera exposure seems to be really low – something that happens to the live-feed often at night. Watch it tonight and you’ll see it looks just as it did in the “blackout.” In any case, you can see the lights are very much on. You can see the dome, you can see the lights of the colonnade, you can see some office/apartment lights, you can see the nativity lights, you can see the Christmas tree star.

You’ll notice a vehicle enters the shot. Some have said this was an ambulance for the shootout. But, longtime Instagram followers will know this is actually my nemesis, the street sweeper.

Just for fun, here’s a daytime overexposure so you can see how finicky the webcam is, even during the day. Notice how there’s a “white out.” Everything is washed out and over exposed, then the camera auto adjusts. Just like that, everything appears normal again.

I’ll also add that occasionally the lights do go out. I’ve seen the dome lights go out. I’ve seen the facade lights go out. I’ve see one colonnade lit and the other dark. I’ve been inside the basilica when the lights went out. These things happen. It’s not common, but it does happen. Never has it meant that the Pope was arrested or, the other thing people keep messaging me about, that the Pope had all the US election votes switched from Trump to Biden.

Dome lights and left colonnade lights out a few years ago.

Did the Pope Get Arrested?

No. It is legally impossible for the head of a sovereign nation to be arrested.

Pope Francis has made several public appearances since the big “raid” as well.


Several conspiracy experts also sent me screenshots of roadblocks around Rome. To which I replied that we are still on lockdown. Not as severe as before, but we still have restrictions in place as to where we can and cannot travel. So, yes, roadblocks and police checks are ongoing. This is especially true on the weekends when we have even more restrictions than during the week.

Police Cars in the Piazza

For those who don’t know, we have police cars patrolling Saint Peter’s Square 24/7. There are more just outside the piazza. And there are soldiers stationed outside as well. This has been going on for years. Still, lots think it was only last night during the arrest of the pope.


Many videos are circulating showing a motorcade “leaving the Vatican” after arresting the pope. The video is in the daytime, which contradicts the overnight blackout arrest. But also, it’s a video from September. It’s also no where near the Vatican. Those who know Rome will see that this motorcade is pulling onto Via del Trintone from Via del Traforo. You’ll notice Piazza Baberini in the distance. So possibly this Pompeo’s motorcade leaving the presidential palace and headed to the US Embassy. But, again, it’s from September and no where near the Vatican.

Lights off during a Mass inside the Vatican

Another video and screenshot is going around showing lights out in a Mass taking place in the Vatican. A keen eye, and by keen, I mean someone willing to read the text scrolling on the screen, will see that this is not the Vatican. It’s San Zeno in Tuscany. And the Mass is for the opening of the Holy Year of Saint James. The Mass starts in the dark with the opening of the Holy Door.

Emergency Alert Signs

These signs were not put in overnight to alert people of some disaster, they’ve been here for years and display opening times of the basilica, carry papal events for people to watch in the piazza, and currently tell people about a small nativity museums in the colonnade.

Live from a Vatican “blackout”

I can’t tell you how many people wrote to me that I was using a green screen or picked apart every shot of this video.

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