Pope Francis drawing crowds four times larger than predecessor
VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) - More than two million people have flocked to Pope Francis' general audiences in St. Peter's Square since his election in March, four times the number that Pope Benedict drew in all of 2012.
The Vatican said on Wednesday it had issued 1,548,500 tickets for the 30 general audiences Pope Francis has held since his election on March 13 as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.
But it said the actual number was "much larger" because no tickets are needed for the rear section of the square and surrounding streets, which accommodate overflow. That area, which fits at least 20,000, is regularly filled during the audiences.
The Vatican did not issue comparative figures on Wednesday but figures released on January 4 showed that 447,000 tickets were issued for the 43 general audiences held by former Pope Benedict in all of 2012.