By the Numbers: Past and Present Popes

Crowds At The Vatican

crowds vaticanAn impressive crowd flooded St. Peter's Square in anticipation of the newly appointed pope: approximately 150,000 attended the election on March 13, and 200,000 (plus 130 official delegations) gathered for the inauguration on March 19.

From the looks of it, 100% of them were smartphone or tablet users.

(Image via flickr)

Social Media Generation

woman texting phoneEven non-Catholics found it difficult to avoid pope-related news last week.

People around the world posted with bated breath in awaiting the announcement, to the tune of 130,000 tweets per minute. There was also a 3.7-million percent growth in Facebook mentions of "Bergoglio."

More than 100,000 people also followed @JMBergoglio, wrongly believing that it belonged to the new pope (in one tweet, he apparently compared himself to Santa Claus); the account is now suspended.

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Length of Voting

Conclave To Elect New Pope Set To BeginThis time around, the cardinals came to a two-thirds vote by the second day.

On average, it takes the papal conclave 3.3 days, which is really quite efficient, though perhaps not so much for the broadcast channels who have to fill in the space between watching for black smoke or white smoke.

As a backup, if 30 ballots (about 12 days) pass with no decision made, the cardinals have the option to select the pope by absolute majority instead.

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How Old?

pope leo xThere's no doubt that the popes have been an elderly bunch.

In the past 500 years, though, there has been one exception: Pope Leo X, elected in 1513 at age 37. You might remember him as the one who granted indulgences and subsequently excommunicated Martin Luther for writing the 95 Theses.

Within that same time frame, the oldest was Pope Celement X, elected in 1670 at age 79 after an intense, five-month conclave. He protested his nomination, citing his advanced age, but was overruled by his fellow cardinals and governed as pope for six years.

(Image via Creative Commons)

Length of Reign

pope piux ixThe average length of papacy over the past five centuries is 10 years. On the low end is Pope Urban VII, who was in office for a mere 13 days before succumbing to malaria in 1590.

Conversely, Pope Pius IX presided for a record 31 years, from 1846-78. He was the last pope who ruled as monarch over the Papal States before they were defeated by the Italian army and reduced to what is now Vatican City.

(Image via Creative Commons)

A Papal Visit

Pope Francis' InaugurationPope Francis is quickly becoming known for strolling openly among the masses, to the apparent chagrin of his security detail. But when a pope decides to leave Rome and visit other locales, the process is often much less carefree.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Britain cost taxpayers an estimated £12 million, and in 2012, an excursion to Mexico cost the government $11 million.

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Retirement and Beyond

Pope Benedict XVI Holds His Final General AudienceAs the first Pope to retire in nearly 600 years, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 85, doesn't have much precedent to go on.

However, the church is sure to accommodate his needs, and the former pontiff will receive a monthly pension of around $3,300 along with keeping the Vatican's private healthcare policy.

(Image via FameFlyNet)