Pope takes very first papal 'selfie'
A PHOTO of the Pope posing with young fans at the Vatican has gone viral on social media, with gleeful reports that it was the first ever "Papal selfie".
The informal picture was taken on a smartphone belonging to one of the youngsters, with the camera held at arm's length. It was then posted on social media.
Around 500 teenagers had travelled from the Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio, 50 miles south of Milan, for a pilgrimage, and shared a private audience with the pontiff.
The Pope told the young crowd he wanted to meet with them "for selfish reasons ... because you have in your heart a promise of hope."
"You are bearers of hope. You, in fact, live in the present, but are looking at the future. You are the protagonists of the future, artisans of the future," the pope told the pilgrims.
"Make the future with beauty, with goodness and truth," he said. "Have courage. Go forward. Make noise."
Before the selfie shot around the world, the teens presented the pope with the gift of a wooden-framed illustration of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns.
Since the Pope was selected in March, he has made clear his intention to connect with young people, and to move the Papacy into a more modern, informal age.
He has surprised Catholics including a rape victim and a Brazilian prisoner by telephoning them personally to discuss their plight, and became the first Pope to wash the feet of female, Muslim prisoners during an Easter service.
He has pledged to return the Catholic Church to its humble roots, and has shunned the lavish trappings of the papacy in favour of a simple existence.