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Number of pilgrims attending papal events at the Vatican fell in 2015

Tourists take a photograph in St Peter's Square (AP)

More than 3.2 million pilgrims visited and attended papal events, liturgies or prayer services at the Vatican in 2015, the Vatican has said.

The statistics, released on December 30, were compiled by the Prefecture of the Papal Household, which coordinates papal events and distributes free tickets to papal audiences and liturgies.

The prefecture said more than 3.2 million people attended a papal event in 2015.

The total was a significant drop from the 5.9 million visitors received by Pope Francis in 2014.

It was also slightly less than half the 6.6 million pilgrims who visited the Vatican during the first nine-and-a-half months of his pontificate in 2013.

During 2015, at least 704,000 people attended the Pope’s 42 weekly general audiences; more than 408,000 attended a special group audience; at least 513,000 pilgrims participated in papal liturgies in St Peter’s Basilica or St Peter’s Square; and more than 1.5 million attended the Pope’s Angelus address on Sundays and major feast days in St Peter’s Square.

The papal event statistics do not include papal events in the city of Rome or international visits made by Pope Francis.

They are also based on the number of ticket requests and estimates of crowd size.