Pope Francis will make his Instagram debut this week, under the handle Franciscus, the Vatican has confirmed.
The pontiff chose Saturday as the date for his debut on the celebrity-dominated social medium as it marks the third anniversary of his inauguration as the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The move represents the latest plank of a Vatican social media strategy designed to ensure Francis’s message reaches a maximum number of believers and non-believers across the world, with particular focus on the younger generation.
Francis is already a major player on Twitter. Under the @Pontifex handle he tweets in nine languages, including Latin, with the English account followed by nearly 9 million people and the Spanish one by more than 11 million.
The move to join Instagram has been anticipated for some time as it is now bigger and faster-growing than Twitter, with some 400 million users worldwide.
Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s CEO and co-founder, met Francis 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 said: “It was by far one of the most memorable experiences of my life!”