Pope Francis continued to gain popularity in 2014

Pope Francis continued to gain popularity in 2014

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ROME — Pope Francis continues to draw large crowds to the Vatican, speaking to about 6 million people in 2014.

This year’s numbers didn’t quite reach the 6.6 million people who attended the Vatican in 2013, but they more than doubled the amount of people who visited during Pope Benedict XVI’s leadership in 2011, according to Crux.

These numbers are according to an annual report from the Prefecture for the Pontifical Household, which keeps track of the number of people who attended general audiences, special audiences, liturgical events and Sunday Angelus addresses with the pope, Crux reported.

"Francis’ total of 1.1 million for his general audiences rivals the statistical peaks achieved under Pope John Paul II, who only twice broke the million mark — in 1979, the first full year after his election, with 1.585 million, and the Jubilee Year of 2000, with 1.463 million," Crux reported.

The pope has continued to gain positive media coverage this year as he has shown kindness to people of all ages and circumstances.

In April, he took two schoolboys for a once-in-a-lifetime ride in his Popemobile just prior to the scheduled four days of events that led up to Easter, according to The Independent.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis assured all pet lovers that animals can go to heaven, saying of the afterlife, “Holy scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us,” according to The New York Times.

For his 78th birthday, the pope donated 400 sleeping bags emblazoned with the papal coat of arms to Rome's homeless population, according to ABC.

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Megan Marsden Christensen

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