ROME (RNS) Some 735,000 people attended Vatican events during each of the nine months of Pope Francis’ papacy, according to information released Thursday (Jan. 2) by the Holy See. It’s the highest average recorded in recent years.

Pope Francis greets people during a meeting with UNITALSI, an Italian Catholic association for the transportation of sick people to Lourdes and other Marian shrines, in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on Saturday (Nov. 9). Photo by Alessia Giuliani, courtesy Catholic News Service

Pope Francis greets people during a meeting with UNITALSI, an Italian Catholic association for the transportation of sick people to Lourdes and other Marian shrines, at the Vatican in November. Photo by Alessia Giuliani, courtesy of Catholic News Service


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Attendance at Vatican events — which includes Masses and other celebrations, but not tourism to St. Peter’s Basilica or the Vatican Museums — usually surges during the first year of a new papacy or during special church celebrations.

But the 735,000 monthly attendance tally outpaced the average of around 500,000 visitors per month in 2005 after Pope Benedict XVI’s election, or the average of 710,000 monthly visitors during the 2000 jubilee year.

The rising attendance at the Vatican shows no signs of abating: Attendance at Masses during the Christmas season set new records, the Italian press reported, despite rainy weather for much of the period. It may be due to the “Francis effect,” which includes the soaring popularity in Italy for the name Francesco, the Italian version of the pontiff’s name; increased tourism to Rome from the pope’s native Argentina; and a rise in church attendance across Italy.

YS/MG END LYMAN

3 Comments

  1. I’m liking what Francis is saying about a lot of things, which undoubtedly is bringing some of those back to the flock who had grown weary of leadership focused primarily just on doctrine. The “Francis Effect” though may work pretty good to attract those sheep who were just on the outskirts of the flock, however for those who are farther out, and for the rest of us who never were, this glamor will eventually wear off, and perhaps very soon. The fact he still has not addressed the 800 pound elephant in the room, or perhaps less metaphorically, the 180 pound pedophile raping the child in the back room of the rectory, will be a huge issue. His luster will fade before long unless he publicly and profoundly takes this issue on, honestly. If he does not, he will merely be a “flash in the pan” celebrity Pope whose ultimate legacy will be that he did nothing about this.

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