Chaput ventures first papal Mass attendance estimate

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The faithful lining the Benjamin Franklin Parkway wave, scream and take pictures of Pope Francis on Sept. 27, 2015.

In his weekly column Tuesday, Archbishop Charles Chaput put forth the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's first public estimate on the number of pilgrims who packed the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday night, Sept. 27, to watch Pope Francis celebrate Mass.

The estimate: nearly 900,000.

"Looking out on a parkway jammed with nearly 900,000 persons at the closing Mass, Pope Francis saw the face of the Christian family in our country," Chaput wrote.

Three days after the event, The Inquirer reported that one crowd-safety expert guessed that no more than 142,000 were in attendance, but that estimate only included the Parkway west of Logan Square.

City officials and the U.S. Secret Service have yet to make any public estimates, although an 800,000-plus figure was floated by some Mass attendees, but that number would seem to include pilgrims who weren't present at the actual Mass since the street is not long enough to accommodate such a large crowd, the newspaper reported.

Originally, city officials anticipated attendance at the weekend-long papal visit to top 1.5 million, and then amended the estimate to 1 million.

Mayor Michael Nutter declined to present a figure the day after the Mass.