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 CNS Story:

POPE-NUMBERS Dec-29-2008 (230 words) xxxi

Vatican figures show number of people at papal events leveling off

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The number of pilgrims and visitors coming to Rome to see the "new" pope appears to be leveling off.

In 2008, more than 2.21 million people saw Pope Benedict XVI in person at the Vatican or the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo, attending his weekly general audience, a special audience with him, a liturgy he celebrated or his Sunday Angelus address, according to figures released by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household Dec. 29.

The total figure for 2007 was more than 2.8 million pilgrims and visitors, while in 2006 -- his first full calendar year as pope -- the total was more than 3.2 million.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II's last full calendar year as pope, the Vatican said the number of people who attended a papal event was 2.23 million.

According to the 2008 statistics, a total of 534,500 people attended one of Pope Benedict's 42 weekly general audiences. Another 226,500 people were part of groups that had a special audience with the pope. Pope Benedict's Masses and prayer services drew 324,000 people and his Sunday and holy day recitation of the Angelus brought 1.13 million people to St. Peter's Square or to the courtyard of the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.


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