Data on the 3rd Longest Pontificate

John Paul II Has Welcomed 1.51 Million People This Year

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2004 ( John Paul II’s 26th anniversary as Pope is just one more milestone in the third longest pontificate of all time.

He is the 11th oldest man to reign as Pontiff. And the length of his pontificate is surpassed in duration only by that of St. Peter and Pius IX (1846-1878).

In his 26-year pontificate, John Paul II has pronounced, written and transmitted more than 90,000 pages, compiled in 55 volumes by the Vatican Library.

As is customary, in the context of the anniversary of the Holy Father’s election to the papacy, the prefecture of the Pontifical Household published figures relative to papal audiences.

On Oct. 16, the Pope celebrated the 26th anniversary of his pontificate, having been elected as the 264th Roman pontiff on that day in 1978.

Up to today, John Paul II has welcomed 1,512,300 people in 2004: 387,100 in the weekly general audiences; 140,200 for special audiences; 368,000 for liturgical celebrations, and 617,000 for the Sunday Angelus.

From Oct. 16, 1978, to last Saturday, the Holy Father has welcomed 426 heads of state, kings and queens, 187 prime ministers, and 190 foreign ministers. He has received the letters of credence of 642 new ambassadors to the Holy See.

These figures do not take into account the myriad numbers of people whom the Pope welcomes at the end of liturgical functions in the Vatican, in Italy, or abroad.

The Holy Father has wished to start his 27th year of pontificate with the convocation of the Year of the Eucharist, which opened today.

Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls explained on Vatican Radio that the Pope prepared this initiative «a long time ago,» as he wishes the whole Church to live «with particular devotion and awareness the central character of Christian life.»

John Paul II hopes to publish next spring his fifth book as Pope. Entitled «Memory and Identity,» the text is a philosophical reflection on the 20th century, which was presented recently at the Frankfurt Book Festival.

The Holy See has confirmed the Pope’s intention to travel to Cologne, Germany, next August for World Youth Day.

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