Pope Francis and his team launched a new account on Instagram and quickly amassed ONE MILLION followers. The Pope and Vatican now have digital presence at both Twitter and Instagram.

The first post: “Pray for me.”

Pope Francis, not one to shy from social media engagement, became the biggest Instagram celebrity of the day today when he and his team added Instagram to his digital/social footprint today and within hours, amassed 1 million followers.

The new Instagram account, simply titled "franciscus," which is Latin for Francis, is copyrighted, not yet following anyone and has made 3 posts today thus far, including a video, below.

The new Instagram account, simply titled “franciscus” is copyrighted and has made 3 posts today thus far, including a video.

The Pope’s first Instagram post elicited 92,000+ likes.

In a statement, the Vatican said that the Instagram feed will include photos and videos from the Pope’s daily life that highlight “closeness” and “inclusion.”

Monsignor Dario E. Viganò, the prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, said in a written statement to the press:

“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 launch on Instagram comes after the Pope met with Kevin Systrom, one of Instagram’s co-founders and current CEO. System had had an audience with the Pope at the Vatican in late February.

Systrom called the Pope’s launch on Instagram an “incredible moment” and went on to say:

“Your messages of humility, compassion and mercy will leave a lasting mark”

Comments thus far have been quite positive though it is not known if someone is moderating comments at this time. It will be interesting to see if/how the Pope and the Vatican use the new Instagram account as a compliment to the existing Twitter account. Will it simply mirror, or provide a different social/digital voice?

The Pope and Vatican’s further move into social media perhaps signifies a commitment to communicating with a younger demographic in a way best understood and embraced by that demographic and, at a time when global smartphone adoption continues to grow. Certainly, this seems to be the trend for almost all major religions these days. Could this launch on Instagram also mean that a Facebook page with live video is next? We hope so!


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