According to the figures released by the Vatican, more than 6.6 million people attended the papal events presided by Pope Francis from his election in March to the end of 2013, compared to 2.3 million for former Pope Benedict in all of 2012.
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.
Figures released last month which were limited to the number of people who attended weekly general audiences showed that Pope Francis had drawn around four times as many people in about 9 and a half months of 2013 than Pope Benedict had in all of 2012. Pope Francis was elected on March 13, 2013, after Pope Benedict’s resignation in February.
Pope Francis, who last month was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine, has drawn people to the Vatican because of his outgoing, simple and friendly style. Pope Benedict was more reserved and far less spontaneous.
The Vatican said the figures released on Thursday did not include the crowds that turned out to see the pope during his trips to Brazil, and to Assisi and Lampedusa in Italy.
More than 3 million people attended the pope’s final event of the Brazil trip on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on July 28, 2013.
The crowds at Pope Francis’ general audiences and Sunday addresses have often topped 100,000, forcing police to close off the boulevard leading to the Vatican to accommodate more people.
Tickets to audiences and Masses are issued for free by the Vatican’s Prefecture of the Pontifical Household and usually distributed through parishes and Church institutions.