The Holy Father officially made his Instagram debut on Saturday under the handle @Franciscus. The Pontiff uploaded a picture of himself kneeling in prayer with the caption: “pray for me,” which he shared in nine different languages.
He launched the account on March 19, the feast of Saint Joseph and third anniversary of the beginning of his pontificate. His Instagram profile reads: “I want to walk with you along the way of God’s mercy and tenderness.”
Pope Francis who is already a major player on Twitter with followers exceeding 23 million had nearly one million followers within hours of going live on Instagram.
According to Monsignor. Dario E. Viganò, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, in a statement on Friday said, “Instagram will help recount the Papacy through images, to enable all those who wish to accompany and know more about Pope Francis’ pontificate to encounter his gestures of tenderness and mercy.”
The papal Instagram will feature photos from L’Osservatore Romano, as well as short videos, the Vatican’s statement said.
“In this way we can show those aspects of closeness and inclusion that Pope Francis lives every day,” Monsignor. Viganò added.
Pope’s increasing interest in social media is designed to facilitate spreading of the Gospel through the internet. His messages reaches hundreds of thousands of believers and non-believers across the world.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom honored Franciscus arrival on Instagram with his own picture of him shaking hands with the Pope. The 79-year-old Pontiff is the first Catholic leader to join the online photo-video sharing application.