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Pope Francis Joins Instagram, Sets New Record With 1 Million Followers in First 12 Hours

( [email protected] ) Mar 20, 2016 03:05 PM EDT
His Holiness Pope Francis became even more social media savvy Saturday when he launched his new Instagram account, posting a picture of himself kneeling, with a caption in several languages asking people of faith to pray for him. The previous Instagram record was 24 hours held by athlete David Beckham.
This photo marked the first post on social media platform Instagram for His Holiness Pope Francis on Saturday, March 19, 2016. He set a new Instagram record, garnering a million followers within 12 hours. Instagram

His Holiness Pope Francis became even more social media savvy Saturday when he launched his new Instagram account, posting a picture of himself kneeling, with a caption in several languages asking people of faith to pray for him. The previous Instagram record was 24 hours held by athlete David Beckham.

"I am beginning a new journey, on Instagram, to walk with you along the path of mercy and the tenderness of God," said a post on Pope Francis' Twitter account Saturday.

While Instagram is new to the pope, he has been on Twitter since March 2013, when he took over Pope Benedict's @Pontifex handle, reports NBC News.  Francis currently has nearly 9 million Twitter followers.

Five hours after Francis' announcement on Twitter and his first photo post, the pope had 575,000 followers on Instagram.

His first Instagram post garnered 92,00-plus likes and his second post, which was another picture of the pontiff praying and posted four hours after his first, got more than 26,000 likes within just an hour.

The pope's account, under the handle, was set up by the 79-year-old Francis with the help of Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom, according to the Vatican. His profile reads: "I want to walk with you along the way of God's mercy and tenderness."

Pope Francis also personally posted his first photo of himself with Systrom's assistance, Vatican Radio reported.

"Watching Pope Francis post his first photo to Instagram today was an incredible moment. @franciscus, welcome to the Instagram community! Your messages of humility, compassion and mercy will leave a lasting mark," Systrom wrote on Instagram and Facebook with a picture of him with the pope.

Systrom and Francis met during late February to discuss "the power of images to unite people across different cultures and languages."

According to the Vatican, Francis' secretariat for communications, Dario Viganò, said the pope decided to branch out to Instagram because of his "conviction that pictures can reveal many things that words can't."

While the Instagram account will be separate from the official Vatican account, it will be maintained by members of the Vatican. His Twitter account is also maintained by other people, reports CNN.

Saturday's post comes on the third anniversary of Pope Francis' papal inauguration. His time as Pope has reflected the embracing of social media as a way to communicate with Catholic followers around the world.

Joining Instagram was a particularly smart move since, according to a spokesperson, the platform has been quickly gaining popularity in countries with a large Catholic presence, such as Mexico, France, Italy and Brazil, reports CNN.

And users were engaging with the Pope on the platform long before he launched his account. According to Instagram, his visit to the U.S. in the fall of 2015 generated 21 million posts, likes and comments from nine million people.

 

 

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