According to figures released today by the papal household, the number of faithful taking part in various Vatican papal events almost halved in 2015 compared to last year, although some of the disparity is due to the large numbers of people who attended the canonizations of Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII in 2014.

Just over 3.2 million faithful attended general audiences, special audiences, Vatican liturgical celebrations, the Angelus and Regina Coeli prayers in 2015. That compares to 5.9 million faithful who took part in the same events last year. 

Last year’s historic canonizations meant that 730,000 participated in liturgical celebrations in April 2014 compared to 110,000 in the same month this year.

But the biggest disparity has been at the Angelus and Regina Coeli prayers: 1.6 million attended them in 2015, compared to just over 3 million last year.

One possible reason could be that the Holy Father has spent over double the time away on papal visits this year (37 days compared to 18 in 2014), although it's debatable how much that influenced the drop in numbers.

The Vatican points out that the statistics do not include the large numbers of faithful who attend other papal events outside the Vatican such as papal trips.

It also stresses that the data is “approximate” and “calculated on the basis of requests to participate in encounters with the Pope and invitations distributed by the Prefecture, which also specifies that estimates are given for attendance at events such as the Angelus or Regina Coeli and for celebrations in St. Peter's Square.”

This article has been updated since its initial publication.

Photo: Edward Pentin/NCRegister.com