Number of Pilgrims Attending Vatican Papal Events Up by 700,000 in 2016

Figures boosted by Holy Week and the canonisation of St. Teresa of Calcutta, the Vatican says.

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The Vatican has released figures showing that just over 700,000 more pilgrims attended papal events at the Vatican in 2016 compared to last year.

In statistics released today by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, 3,952,140 people took part in the events. In 2015 the total figure was 3.2 million while in 2014, the total estimated number of faithful attending papal audiences and other engagements with the Holy Father was just over 5.9 million, believed to be largely boosted by the canonizations of Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII.

The other categories listed are (previous year in brackets): 43 general audiences 762,000 (704,100 attended 42 in 2015), special audiences 169,640 (407,760), liturgical celebrations 924,500 (513,000), and the Angelus/Regina Coeli, 1,650,000 (1,585,000). Meanwhile, 446,000 attended the Pope’s jubilee audiences which he held once a month during the Holy Year of Mercy that ran the entire year until Nov. 21.  

The Vatican was keen to point out that the data is approximate, “calculated on the basis of applications for participation in the events received by the Prefecture of the Papal Household” and tickets they had distributed. The estimates for the Angelus or Regina Coeli and celebrations in St. Peter's Square are particularly inexact, it added.

“The most significant data is found in March, coinciding with Holy Week, and in September, on the occasion of the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” the Vatican said.

Apart from the jubilee audiences, it did not otherwise refer to the Jubilee Year of Mercy which might have been expected to have made the figures much higher. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and charged with organizing the Year, told reporters Nov. 22 that almost 22 million pilgrims took part in Rome events during the Holy Year that ran from November to November.

The Vatican also stressed that the figures released today only relate to Vatican events and do not include Pope Francis’ Rome engagements, nor his visits to Italy and other countries (Mexico, Lesbos, Armenia, Poland, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Sweden) where many of the faithful also participated.