Vatican City — In the first nine and a half months of Pope Francis' pontificate, more than 6.6 million people participated in papal events at the Vatican, including weekly general audiences, group audiences, liturgies and recitations of the Angelus and "Regina Coeli" on Sundays and holy days.
The statistics, compiled by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household and released Thursday, do not include figures from Pope Francis' trip to Brazil for World Youth Day in July or his visits to Italian locations outside the Vatican.
From his election March 13 until the end of 2013, at least 1.5 million people attended Pope Francis' 30 general audiences; more than 87,000 participated in group audiences; almost 2.3 million participated in papal liturgies in St. Peter's Basilica or St. Peter's Square; and more than 2.7 million joined the pope for the Angelus or the "Regina Coeli" in the square.
The numbers are approximate, based on tickets issued or estimates of crowd size, depending on the event.
By comparison, during the year following the election of Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005, more than 4 million people attended papal events at the Vatican and the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
In 1979, the first full calendar year of Blessed John Paul II's pontificate, nearly 1.6 million requested tickets for his weekly public audiences.