Pope Francis to start official Instagram account

Pope Francis to join Instagram on third anniversary of his inauguration, joining 'likes' of Justin Bieber and Cristiano Ronaldo

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Pope Francis leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.

Pope Francis will make his Instagram debut on Saturday, joining the likes of Justin Bieber and Cristiano Ronaldo on the image-sharing forum under the handle Franciscus, the Vatican confirmed Wednesday.

The date for the pontiff's debut on the celebrity-dominated social medium was chosen by the 79-year-old himself as it marks the third anniversary of his inauguration as the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

Pope Francis is no stranger to social media, he’s been using Twitter and is known under the @Pontifex handle in which he tweets in nine languages, including Latin, with the English account that now reaches almost 9 million.

Kevin Systrom, Instagram's CEO and co-founder, met the pontiff at the Vatican last month, later revealing they had discussed "the power of images to unite people across different cultures and languages."

In a post on his own Instagram account, Systrom also said: "It was by far one of the most memorable experiences of my life!"

Francis joined the Twittersphere four days after his March 2013 election with what has become his trademark appeal to believers to "pray for me."

The central importance of prayer has been a recurring theme of the tweets that have followed, at a rate of a little under one a day.

But it has not all been theology. He has also used the medium to react to global events like Typhoon Hiayan/Yolanda, or voice his views on the social issues of the day.

Francis's interest in the Internet was underlined in January when he spoke out against online trolls. He has also hosted major figures in the new digital economy, including Google boss Eric Schmidt and Apple supremo Tim Cook.