Vatican #2PopeSaints Campaign Features The Church's Take On Pharrell Williams' 'Happy,' And It's Just So Weird
When Pope Benedict XVI joined Twitter as @Pontifex, we were cautiously amused. Such an ancient institution merged with such a modern one seemed odd, like your grandmother wearing those high-heeled sneakers, or a dog using a FitBit. Now, Pope Francis and co are wading a little deeper into the holy pool of social media with the Vatican's latest campaign: #2popesaints. The campaign was launched to promote the joint canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on Sunday, and it is hilariously real.
Led by Father Stefano Cascio, a priest in the Vicariate of Rome, the campaign aims to appeal to a younger demographic. "We wanted to talk to young people aged 15 to 30 about these two popes that they don't know very well or even at all," Cascio said in an interview with Agence France-Presse. "The Bibles were written in Greek because it was an international language, the English of the time. We're following that same path with different methods."
When the popular language of the time is pictures of cats sleeping on top of other things, that strategy is going to yield some questionable results. And, indeed, it has. The #2popesaints Facebook page currently has 5,525 likes and features inspirational quotes from the two popes to be canonized, as well as photos, news about the day, and this video, proclaimed viral by its makers.
Yes, it is a Catholic take on Pharrell's "Happy." Yes, it does feature nuns, priests, and a gaggle of Roman citizens dancing foolishly, holding up pictures of the two honored popes or signs reading "#2popesaints." It also features a bartender tending, which I thought was illegal, but what do I know?
The campaign's Twitter page has fewer followers than Facebook (only 4,149), but the hashtag does seem to be taking off internationally.
If that's not enough engagement for you, you can head over to their Instagram account that features a number filtered photographs of, you guessed it, the Popes.
According to the AFP, the team will project a new video on giant screens following the canonization ceremony this Sunday. 800,000 people are expected to attend.
"The Church is with it now, more than you might think," said Maila Paone, the director of the video, reports the AFP. "It understands that young people communicate through social media. It can no longer be a superstructure, the church is the street, the piazza, the flash mob, YouTube… Pope Francis is a massive shake-up for believers and non-believers alike. And on the Internet he's a huge hit!"
Indeed, Maila, indeed.