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More than five million people attended papal events in 2014

Pope Francis waves as he arrives for a general audience in June (AP)

More than 5.9 million pilgrims and visitors joined Pope Francis for an audience, liturgy or prayer at the Vatican in 2014, the Vatican has said.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household, the Vatican office coordinating the audiences and distributing the free tickets to papal audiences and liturgies, said a total of 5,916,800 people attended a papal event at the Vatican.

The 2014 total was down by about 680,000 from the 6.6 million visitors Pope Francis received in the first nine and a half months of his pontificate in 2013 – from his election on March 13 to the end of the year.

For the 12 months of 2014, at least 1.19 million people attended Pope Francis’s 43 weekly general audiences. More than 567,000 participated in special group audiences.

More than 1.1 million participated in papal liturgies in St Peter’s Basilica or St Peter’s Square, and more than three million joined the pope for the Angelus or the Regina Caeli prayer on Sundays and major feast days in St Peter’s Square.

The figures released by the prefecture do not include numbers from papal events in the city of Rome, in Italian dioceses or on the Pope’s foreign trips, and the numbers are approximate, based on the number of tickets requested and estimates of crowd size.