Pope Launches on Instagram at ‘Franciscus,’ Telling Followers: ‘Pray for Me’

First post on this social-media platform features a photo of the Holy Father reverently kneeling in prayer.

First post by Pope Francis on Instagram
First post by Pope Francis on Instagram (photo: Instagram.com/Franciscus)

VATICAN CITY — The official Instagram account of Pope Francis launched on Saturday with a simple request for his followers: “Pray for me.”

The inaugural post, which was translated into nine languages, features a photo of the Pope reverently kneeling in prayer.

The post was made after noon under the handle @Franciscus, which is Latin for Francis. Within 30 minutes of going live, the account had more than 10,000 followers. As of the morning of March 21, U.S. time, the Pope had 1.5 million followers.

“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,” said Msgr. Dario Viganò, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, in a Vatican statement Friday.

The papal Instagram will feature photos from L’Osservatore Romano, as well as short videos, according to the Vatican’s March 18 statement.

“In this way, we can show those aspects of closeness and inclusion that Pope Francis lives every day,” Msgr. Viganò said.

He added that the Instagram account was intentionally established during the Year of Mercy, allowing the jubilee to enter “into social media in a very concrete and natural way,” reads the March 18 press release.

The account launch comes a few weeks after Francis met with Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom at the Vatican.

The Pope’s Instagram account is his latest engagement with social media, with more than 25 million followers across nine languages on Twitter alone.   

Francis is not the first pope to engage with social media. In December 2012, Benedict XVI inaugurated the @Pontifex Twitter account with the tweet: “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”

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