Pope Francis Has Become Italy's Best Tourist Attraction

Image: Pope Francis Has Become Italy's Best Tourist Attraction Pope Francis leads Christmas night mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

Friday, 03 Jan 2014 12:28 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Pope Francis is proving to be a tourist attraction for the Vatican, drawing twice as many visitors to Rome as the previous pontiff.

According to Vatican statistics, Pope Francis has drawn more than 6.6 million people in 2013 to participate in his audiences, celebrate Masses, and attend other Vatican events, reports Fox News. This is more than twice as many people as Pope Benedict XVI attracted in his first year.

Francis is not only proving a draw at the Vatican, but worldwide, millions of people are flocking to hear his messages. An estimated 3.7 million people attended his final World Youth Day Mass in Rio de Janeiro, the Vatican says, although statisticians placed the true figure at about half that many.

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n addition, an estimated three million attended the final event of the pope's visit to Brazil in July, when Francis led a gathering at Copacabana Beach.

Francis, the first Latin American and Jesuit pope, boosted his popularity even further with a highly anticipated New Year's Day address, urging people to work through their differences.

"We are all children of one heavenly father. We belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny," Francis said, speaking from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square, where tens of thousands jammed in to hear his first remarks of 2014.

The Vatican based its 6.6 million visitors figure on the number of free tickets it issues for papal events, and by estimates of people attending events, including his weekly appearances at St. Peter's Square, reports IBTraveler.com.

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