'I am beginning a new journey, on Instagram' - Pope Francis asks online users to pray for him
Published 19/03/2016 | 14:59
Pope Francis has launched a new Instagram account with an image of himself praying.
The pope accompanied the picture with a caption in nine languages asking Instagram users to pray for him.
The Vatican's presence on social media also includes an official papal Twitter account and YouTube channels and Facebook pages for special events.
Pope Francis took over the @Pontifex Twitter handle from his predecessor Benedict XVI, who became the first pope to send a tweet in December 2012.
He took to the site on Saturday to announce the launch of the Instagram account, posting: "I am beginning a new journey, on Instagram, to walk with you along the path of mercy and the tenderness of God."
Kevin Systrom, chief executive and co-founder of Instagram, met with the pope in February and presented him with a book containing 10 Instagram images from around the world, including pictures of migrants in the Middle East, the effects of climate change in the Arctic and the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
Posting about the meeting on Instagram, Mr Systrom said: "Today, I had the honour of meeting Pope Francis. We spoke about the power of images to unite people across different cultures and languages. It was by far one of the most memorable experiences of my life."
Mr Systrom was also present at The Vatican on Saturday to watch the pope post his first photograph to the image sharing site.
He said: "Images transcend language and bring us all closer together. Pope Francis joins a global Instagram community who share a common passion for creativity and expression - his messages of humility and compassion will leave a lasting mark."
The pope will post on Instagram with the username @Franciscus.