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Online outreach: Vatican Instagram account quickly rising in popularity

2013-10-19

A time old saying says an image is worth a thousand words. But, how many words does an inspiring image convey? Thats the question the Vatican wants to answer through their new account on the photo-sharing site Instagram.   

The account, titled "newsva” chronicles the Pope's interaction with pilgrims. Their goal is to inspire, and to spread his message one photo at a time. 

JOSE MIGUEL CHAVARRIA 
Pontifical Council for Social Communications 
"I think that the Vatican and the Church in general need to raise their standards of quality in this field, the way they did so in the past. They chose the best artists, the best painters and sculptures. Nowadays, images and graphics are most important.” 

Jose Miguel Chavarria works for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Vatican department that oversees social media. He created the account in April, soon after the election of Pope Francis. 

JOSE MIGUEL CHAVARRIA 
Pontifical Council for Social Communications
"We've been very surprised by how quick it's grown, because it's true that we created it in April. But we didn't publicize it, we didn't talk about it, not even with our colleagues. It was just an experiment to get to know this app.” 

Despite the lack of promotion, the growth for the"newsva” account has been staggering. Within the past month, it's gone from 600 followers to over 10,000! 

JOSE MIGUEL CHAVARRIA 
Pontifical Council for Social Communications 
"Right now, we're practically adding about 1,000 new followers per day.” 

The photos they upload often showcase the Pope's approachability and his closeness to the people. But above all, it's about the quality of the message their images give off.  

JOSE MIGUEL CHAVARRIA 
Pontifical Council for Social Communications 
"We liked being able to use images that are not as timely, in a journalistic sense, but more artistic. Images that are more particular, retouched, with filters and colors.” 

Following their success on Twitter, Chavarria says it makes sense to look at other services to spread the Word of God. As the Church opens up to the digital world, Instagram will be another tool at their disposal. 


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