More than 6.6 million people attended events with Pope Francis at the Vatican from his election in March to the end of 2013, figures released on Thursday showed, compared to 2.3 million for former Pope Benedict in all of 2012.
The Vatican said the figures were based on the number of tickets issued for papal events where they are needed, such as general audiences, Masses and private audiences. They were also based on estimates of the number of people at events where tickets are not needed, such as his weekly appearance from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
The Vatican did not issue comparative figures on Thursday but figures released on January 4, 2013 showed that some 2.3 million people attended all events presided by Benedict in 2012. Benedict, citing health reasons, resigned on February 28, 2013, becoming the first pope in 600 years to do so rather than ruling for life. He is now known as Pope Emeritus.
(Pope Francis encourages finding joy during mass in St. Peter’s Square on Family Day, Oct 27, 2013 . Nathan Frandino reports in this Reuters video)