(ANSA) - Vatican City, December 18 - Vatican officials said Wednesday that over 1.5 million tickets had been issued since the election of Pope Francis in March for his general audiences. Many more people attended the regular audiences, held on Wednesdays usually in the open air of St. Peter's Square, added officials with the papal household. Tickets allow visitors to the Vatican to get slightly closer access to St. Peter's Basilica during papal audiences, but thousands more come to the piazza to hear the pope speak. At times, the crowd spills out from the piazza and down the major streets that lead to St. Peter's, including Piazza Papa Pio XII, which is just outside the Vatican City walls, and Via della Conciliazione. Pope Francis has held 30 general audiences since his first held on March 27, with a total of 1.5485 million tickets issued, according to the official data.