Drawing the Crowds: Pope Francis draws 6.6 million people to Vatican last year
Visitations to Vatican almost three times as much as Pope Benedict in 2012
Galvanizing the church, Pope Francis' message of simplicity, integrity and outreach to the poor, in all of their manifestations, has touched the entire world. Vatican statistics bear this out, with more than 6.6 million people attending events with Pope Francis. Since his election in March until the end of 2013, figures proved that Francis drew more visitors - almost three times as many as Pope Benedict in 2012, with 2.3 million visitations.
These numbers are in contrast to figures that showed that some 2.3 million people attended all events presided by Benedict in 2012. In an act of inspiring humility, Benedict voluntarily stepped aside last year, becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign in lieu of serving for life. Benedict is now known as Pope Emeritus Benedict and lives on the Vatican premises in a monastic enclosure where he prays for the whole Church.
There was a substantial difference between the two pontiffs ability to draw the crowds. Figures proved that Pope Francis had drawn around four times as many people in about nine and a half months in 2013 than Benedict had in all of 2012. Elected on March 13, 2013, the statistics relating to Pope Francis were limited to the number of people who attended weekly general audiences.
The Vatican points out that the recently released figures didn't include the crowds that turned out to see the pope during his trips to Brazil, and to Assisi and Lampedusa in Italy.
If they did, these figures would be doubtlessly be far higher. More than three million people attended the pope's final event of the Brazil trip on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on July 28.
Hailed as Time magazine's Person of the Year, Pope Francis has drawn people to the Vatican due to his simple and friendly style. Benedict was far more reserved and seemingly not as spontaneous. He was professorial in style but profound in theological insight and reflective. However, he was - and is - deeply loved.
Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, took helm of the Catholic Church at a time when it needed such a renewal of interest in the broader community.
Francis is known for "walking the walk" when it comes to leading a simple life of faith. His symbolic actions of choosing not to live in the spacious papal apartments, opting for the guest house and being driven in a regular car instead of the papal limousine are often pointed to as examples of his simplicity.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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