Surely it’s any pope’s dream to be able to amass nearly a million new followers in a single day. Perhaps that’s at the crux of Pope Benedict XIV’s new Twitter feed. He sent his first tweet this morning under the handle @Pontifex, which is Latin for “bridge builder.”
While embracing technology has been a slow yet steady mission of Pope Benedict XIV, he’s not the first to seek new ways of getting his message out. Throughout the 20th century, pope after pope has tried to embrace the world of tech. Here are some examples:
Film: Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo reigned from 1878 to 1903, which coincided with the dawn of the moving picture. In the late 1890s, the inventor of the motion picture camera, William K.L. Dickson, trained his lens on the pope and filmed twelve scenes of him being carried in a chair around the Vatican. Dickson even received what appeared to be the pope’s blessing on his camera. The film premiered at New York’s Carnegie Hall in December 1898 to great acclaim.
Audio Recording: Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo was the first pope whose voice was captured on an audio recording. He was recorded during a 1903 mass at which he chanted Ave Maria in Latin and featured on a record of Alessandro Moreschi’s singing.
Radio: Pope Pius XI
A fan of Guglielmo Marconi’s ‘awesome invention,’ Pope Pius XI asked the inventor to build a radio broadcasting station within Vatican City. On February 12, 1931, Vatican Radio went live. In his first radio address he noted his prayers were with all the world’s people.
TV: Pope Pius XII
During his reign between 1939 and 1958, Pope Pius XII was the first to try television, appearing in various news broadcasts as early as 1946. On March 25, 1949, the pope gave his first-ever speech specifically prepared for U.S. television networks. The address was given to mark the final day of the national appeal of Bishops, an annual fundraising effort.
(PHOTOS: The Path of Pope Benedict XVI)
Website: Pope John Paul II
Launched on Christmas Day 1995, http://vatican.va saw more than 300,000 users in a 48-hour period, an almost unfathomably large audience at the time. Pope John Paul II used the website to post his sermons and other missives to his followers.
iPad: Pope Benedict XVI
In 2011, to help launch http://news.va, a new Vatican-centric news service, the pope tapped out a message on an iPad to be sent via Twitter. He used his iPad Wednesday, too, to send his first tweet from @pontifex.
PHOTOS: Pope Benedict XVI in Spain