A pope in the age of social media

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Pope Francis' official Twitter account, @Pontifex, has over 8 million followers.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Pope Francis, whose real name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

He is the eldest of the five children of Mario Jose Bergoglio and Regina Mari Sivori.

Before he became a pope, he was the Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires (1992–97), Titular Bishop of Auca (1992–97) and Archbishop of Buenos Aires (1998–2013) and Cardinal-Priest of San Roberto Bellarmino (2001–13).

On March 13, 2013, he was elected Supreme Pontiff by a conclave of 115 cardinals.

Pope Francis is the first pope to come from the Americas and the first Jesuit pope. He is also the first in papal history to use the name Francis. He took the name after St. Francis of Assisi who was “a man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.”

“How I would like a church that is poor and that is for the poor," he said, explaining why he chose the name.

While others know him as Pope Francis, most people know him as @Pontifex.

Pope-Francis-on-Social-Media-infographic_CNNPH.png Infographic by Miggy Crisostomo  

The @Pontifex effect

Though Pope Francis had earlier said that social media creates "mental pollution," his presence on the digital platform has made him one of the most influential persons in the world.

As of December 15, 2015, his official Twitter account @Pontifex has 25,462,300 followers — across his nine official language accounts.

He is the second most followed leader, after U.S. President Barack Obama who leads with 67,071,563 followers. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ranked third with 16,615,499.

Of his 25,462,300 followers, over 14 percent are from the United States, while 1.9 percent are Filipino netizens.

Thanks in large part to social media, people connect more and are well-receptive of Pope Francis' teachings and messages. The tweets he sends out are retweeted 6,462 times on average.

It's interesting to know that his three most retweeted posts are in Tagalog and were posted during the Papal Visit in the Philippines last January 25.

Though his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI was the first pope to tweet, Pope Francis has become more relevant on social media. Most of his tweets are focused on prayers, continuously urging people to pray and be grateful to God.

Pope Francis is undoubtedly an inspiration to many people — Catholics and non-Catholics. And he has made a global impact by spreading the word of God not only through his physical presence, but also his presence in the digital world.